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A Scandal in Bohemia
The Red-headed League
A Case of Identity
The Boscombe Valley Mystery
The Five Orange Pips
The Man with the Twisted Lip
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
The Adventure of the Speckled Band
The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb
The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor
The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet
The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

               A Scandal in Bohemia

  To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom
heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she
eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that
he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions,
and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but
admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect
reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as
a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He
never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer.
They were admirable things for the observer -- excellent for draw-
ing the veil from men's motives and actions. But for the trained
teasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely
adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which
might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a
sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power
lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a
nature such as his. And yet there was but one woman to him,
and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and ques-
tionable memory.
  I had seen little of Holmes lately. My marriage had drifted us
away from each other. My own complete happiness, and the
home-centred interests which rise up around the man who first
finds himself master of his own establishment, were sufficient to
absorb all my attention, while Holmes, who loathed every form
of society with his whole Bohemian soul, remained in our lodg-
ings in Baker Street, buried among his old books, and alternating
from week to week between cocaine and ambition, the drowsi-
ness of the drug, and the fierce energy of his own keen nature.
He was still, as ever, deeply attracted by the study of crime, and
occupied his immense faculties and extraordinary powers of
observation in following out those clues, and clearing up those
mysteries which had been abandoned as hopeless by the official
police. From time to time I heard some vague account of his
doings: of his summons to Odessa in the case of the Trepoff
murder, of his clearing up of the singular tragedy of the Atkinson
brothers at Trincomalee, and finally of the mission which he had
accomplished so delicately and successfully for the reigning
family of Holland. Beyond these signs of his activity, however,
which I merely shared with all the readers of the daily press, I
knew little of my former friend and companion.
  One night -- it was on the twentieth of March, 1888 -- I was
returning from a journey to a patient (for I had now returned to
civil practice), when my way led me through Baker Street. As I
passed the well-remembered door, which must always be associ-
ated in my mind with my wooing, and with the dark incidents of
the Study in Scarlet, I was seized with a keen desire to see
Holmes again, and to know how he was employing his extraordi-
nary powers. His rooms were brilliantly lit, and, even as I
looked up, I saw his tall, spare figure pass twice in a dark
silhouette against the blind. He was pacing the room swiftly,
eagerly, with his head sunk upon his chest and his hands clasped
behind him. To me, who knew his every mood and habit, his
attitude and manner told their own story. He was at work again.
He had risen out of his drug-created dreams and was hot upon
the scent of some new problem. I rang the bell and was shown
up to the chamber which had formerly been in part my own.
  His manner was not effusive. It seldom was; but he was glad,
I think, to see me. With hardly a word spoken, but with a kindly
eye, he waved me to an armchair, threw across his case of
cigars, and indicated a spirit case and a gasogene in the corner.
Then he stood before the fire and looked me over in his singular
introspective fashion.
  "Wedlock suits you," he remarked. "I think, Watson, that
you have put on seven and a half pounds since I saw you."
  "Seven!" I answered.
  "Indeed, I should have thought a little more. Just a trifle
more, I fancy, Watson. And in practice again, I observe. You
did not tell me that you intended to go into harness."
  "Then, how do you know?"
  "I see it, I deduce it. How do I know that you have been
getting yourself very wet lately, and that you have a most clumsy
and careless servant girl?"
  "My dear Holmes," said I, "this is too much. You would
certainly have been burned, had you lived a few centuries ago. It
is true that I had a country walk on Thursday and came home in a
dreadful mess, but as I have changed my clothes I can't imagine
how you deduce it. As to Mary Jane, she is incorrigible, and my
wife has given her notice, but there, again, I fail to see how you
work it out."
  He chuckled to himself and rubbed his long, nervous hands
  "It is simplicity itself," said he; "my eyes tell me that on the
inside of your left shoe, just where the firelight strikes it, the
leather is scored by six almost parallel cuts. Obviously they have
been caused by someone who has very carelessly scraped round
the edges of the sole in order to remove crusted mud from it.
Hence, you see, my double deduction that you had been out in
vile weather, and that you had a particularly malignant boot-
slitting specimen of the London slavey. As to your practice, if a
gentleman walks into my rooms smelling of iodoform, with a
black mark of nitrate of silver upon his right forefinger, and a
bulge on the right side of his top-hat to show where he has
secreted his stethoscope, I must be dull, indeed, if I do not
pronounce him to be an active member of the medical profession."
  I could not help laughing at the ease with which he explained
his process of deduction. "When I hear you give your reasons,"
I remarked, "the thing always appears to me to be so ridicu-
lously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each
successive instance of your reasoning I am baffled until you
explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good
as yours."
  "Quite so," he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing
himself down into an armchair. "You see, but you do not
observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have fre-
quently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room."
  "How often?"
  "Well, some hundreds of times."
  "Then how many are there?"
  "How many? I don't know."
  "Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen.
That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen
steps, because I have both seen and observed. By the way,
since you are interested in these little problems, and since you
are good enough to chronicle one or two of my trifling experi-
ences, you may be interested in this." He threw over a sheet of
thick, pink-tinted note-paper which had been lying open upon
the table. "It came by the last post," said he. "Read it aloud."
  The note was undated, and without either signature or address.

      "There will call upon you to-night, at a quarter to eight
    o'clock [it said], a gentleman who desires to consult you
    upon a matter of the very deepest moment. Your recent
    services to one of the royal houses of Europe have shown
    that you are one who may safely be trusted with matters
    which are of an importance which can hardly be exagger-
    ated. This account of you we have from all quarters re-
    ceived. Be in your chamber then at that hour, and do not
    take it amiss if your visitor wear a mask.

  "This is indeed a mystery," I remarked. "What do you
imagine that it means?"
  "I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorize before
one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories,
instead of theories to suit facts. But the note itself. What do you
deduce from it?"
  I carefully examined the writing, and the paper upon which it
was written.
  "The man who wrote it was presumably well to do," I
remarked, endeavouring to imitate my companion's processes.
"Such paper could not be bought under half a crown a packet. It
is peculiarly strong and stiff."
  "Peculiar -- that is the very word," said Holmes. "It is not an
English paper at all. Hold it up to the light."
  I did so, and saw a large "E" with a small "g," a "P," and a
large "G" with a small "f" woven into the texture of the paper.
  "What do you make of that?" asked Holmes.
  "The name of the maker, no doubt; or his monogram, rather."
  "Not at all. The 'G' with the small 't' stands for 'Gesell-
schaft,' which is the German for 'Company.' It is a customary
contraction like our 'Co.' 'P,' of course, stands for 'Papier.'
Now for the 'Eg.' Let us glance at our Continental Gazetteer."
He took down a heavy brown volume from his shelves. "Eglow,
Eglonitz -- here we are, Egria. It is in a German-speaking
country -- in Bohemia, not far from Carlsbad. 'Remarkable as
being the scene of the death of Wallenstein, and for its numerous
glass-factories and paper-mills.' Ha, ha, my boy, what do you
make of that?" His eyes sparkled, and he sent up a great blue
triumphant cloud from his cigarette.
  "The paper was made in Bohemia," I said.
  "Precisely. And the man who wrote the note is a German. Do
you note the peculiar construction of the sentence -- 'This ac-
count of you we have from all quarters received.' A Frenchman
or Russian could not have written that. It is the German who is
so uncourteous to his verbs. It only remains, therefore, to dis-
cover what is wanted by this German who writes upon Bohemian
paper and prefers wearing a mask to showing his face. And here
he comes, if I am not mistaken, to resolve all our doubts."
  As he spoke there was the sharp sound of horses' hoofs and
grating wheels against the curb, followed by a sharp pull at the
bell. Holmes whistled.
  "A pair, by the sound," said he. "Yes," he continued,
glancing out of the window. "A nice little brougham and a pair
of beauties. A hundred and fifty guineas apiece. There's money
in this case, Watson, if there is nothing else."
  "I think that I had better go, Holmes."
  "Not a bit, Doctor. Stay where you are. I am lost without my
Boswell. And this promises to be interesting. It would be a pity
to miss it."
  "But your client --"
  "Never mind him. I may want your help, and so may he.
Here he comes. Sit down in that armchair, Doctor, and give us
your best attention."
  A slow and heavy step, which had been heard upon the stairs
and in the passage, paused immediately outside the door. Then
there was a loud and authoritative tap.
  "Come in!" said Holmes.
  A man entered who could hardly have been less than six feet
six inches in height, with the chest and limbs of a Hercules. His
dress was rich with a richness which would, in England, be
looked upon as akin to bad taste. Heavy bands of astrakhan were
slashed across the sleeves and fronts of his double-breasted coat,
while the deep blue cloak which was thrown over his shoulders
was lined with flame-coloured silk and secured at the neck with a
brooch which consisted of a single flaming beryl. Boots which
extended halfway up his calves, and which were trimmed at the
tops with rich brown fur, completed the impression of barbaric
opulence which was suggested by his whole appearance. He
carried a broad-brimmed hat in his hand, while he wore across
the upper part of his face, extending down past the cheekbones,
a black vizard mask, which he had apparently adjusted that very
moment, for his hand was still raised to it as he entered. From
the lower part of the face he appeared to be a man of strong
character, with a thick, hanging lip, and a long, straight chin
suggestive of resolution pushed to the length of obstinacy.
  "You had my note?" he asked with a deep harsh voice and a
strongly marked German accent. "I told you that I would call."
He looked from one to the other of us, as if uncertain which to
  "Pray take a seat," said Holmes. "This is my friend and
colleague, Dr. Watson, who is occasionally good enough to help
me in my cases. Whom have I the honour to address?"
  "You may address me as the Count Von Kramm, a Bohemian
nobleman. I understand that this gentleman, your friend, is a
man of honour and discretion, whom I may trust with a matter of
the most extreme importance. If not, I should much prefer to
communicate with you alone."
  I rose to go, but Holmes caught me by the wrist and pushed
me back into my chair. "It is both, or none," said he. "You
may say before this gentleman anything which you may say to
  The Count shrugged his broad shoulders. "Then I must be-
gin," said he, "by binding you both to absolute secrecy for two
years; at the end of that time the matter will be of no importance.
At present it is not too much to say that it is of such weight it
may have an influence upon European history."
  "I promise," said Holmes.
  "And I."
  "You will excuse this mask," continued our strange visitor.
"The august person who employs me wishes his agent to be
unknown to you, and I may confess at once that the title by
which I have just called myself is not exactly my own."
  "I was aware of it," said Holmes drily.
  "The circumstances are of great delicacy, and every precau-
tion has to be taken to quench what might grow to be an
immense scandal and seriously compromise one of the reigning
families of Europe. To speak plainly, the matter implicates the
great House of Ormstein, hereditary kings of Bohemia."
  "I was also aware of that," murmured Holmes, settling him-
self down in his armchair and closing his eyes.
  Our visitor glanced with some apparent surprise at the languid,
lounging figure of the man who had been no doubt depicted to
him as the most incisive reasoner and most energetic agent in
Europe. Holmes slowly reopened his eyes and looked impa-
tiently at his gigantic client.
  "If your Majesty would condescend to state your case," he
remarked, "I should be better able to advise you."
  The man sprang from his chair and paced up and down the
room in uncontrollable agitation. Then, with a gesture of desper-
ation, he tore the mask from his face and hurled it upon the
ground. "You are right," he cried; "I am the King. Why should
I attempt to conceal it?"
  "Why, indeed?" murmured Holmes. "Your Majesty had not
spoken before I was aware that I was addressing Wilhelm
Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-
Felstein, and hereditary King of Bohemia."
  "But you can understand," said our strange visitor, sitting
down once more and passing his hand over his high white
forehead, "you can understand that I am not accustomed to
doing such business in my own person. Yet the matter was so
delicate that I could not confide it to an agent without putting
myself in his power. I have come incognito from Prague for the
purpose of consulting you."
  "Then, pray consult," said Holmes, shutting his eyes once
  "The facts are briefly these: Some five years ago, during a
lengthy visit to Warsaw, I made the acquaintance of the well-
known adventuress, Irene Adler. The name is no doubt farmiliar
to you."
  "Kindly look her up in my index, Doctor," murmured Holmes
without opening his eyes. For many years he had adopted a
system of docketing all paragraphs concerning men and things,
so that it was difficult to name a subject or a person on which he
could not at once furnish information. In this case I found her
biography sandwiched in between that of a Hebrew rabbi and
that of a staff-commander who had written a monograph upon
the deep-sea fishes.
  "Let me see!" said Holmes. "Hum! Born in New Jersey in
the year 1858. Contralto -- hum! La Scala, hum! Prima donna
Imperial Opera of Warsaw -- yes! Retired from operatic stage -- ha!
Living in London -- quite so! Your Majesty, as I understand,
became entangled with this young person, wrote her some
compromising letters, and is now desirous of getting those letters
  "Precisely so. But how --"
  "Was there a secret marriage?"
  "No legal papers or certificates?"
  "Then I fail to follow your Majesty. If this young person
should produce her letters for blackmailing or other purposes,
how is she to prove their authenticity?"
  "There is the writing."
  "Pooh, pooh! Forgery."
  "My private note-paper."
  "My own seal."
  "My photograph."
  "We were both in the photograph."
  "Oh, dear! That is very bad! Your Majesty has indeed com-
mitted an indiscretion."
  "I was mad -- insane."
  "You have compromised yourself seriously."
  "I was only Crown Prince then. I was young. I am but thirty
  "It must be recovered."
  "We have tried and failed."
  "Your Majesty must pay. It must be bought."
  "She will not sell."
  "Stolen, then."
  "Five attempts have been made. Twice burglars in my pay
ransacked her house. Once we diverted her luggage when she
travelled. Twice she has been waylaid. There has been no result."
  "No sign of it?"
  "Absolutely none."
  Holmes laughed. "It is quite a pretty little problem," said he.
  "But a very serious one to me," returned the King reproachfully.
  "Very, indeed. And what does she propose to do with the
  "To ruin me."
  "But how?"
  "I am about to be married."
  "So I have heard."
  "To Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meningen, second daughter
of the King of Scandinavia. You may know the stnct principles
of her family. She is herself the very soul of delicacy. A shadow
of a doubt as to my conduct would bring the matter to an end."
  "And Irene Adler?"
  "Threatens to send them the photograph. And she will do it. I
know that she will do it. You do not know her, but she has a
soul of steel. She has the face of the most beautiful of women,
and the mind of the most resolute of men. Rather than I should
marry another woman, there are no lengths to which she would
not go -- none."
  "You are sure that she has not sent it yet?"
  "I am sure."
  "And why?"
  "Because she has said that she would send it on the day when
the betrothal was publicly proclaimed. That will be next Monday."
  "Oh, then we have three days yet," said Holmes with a
yawn. "That is very fortunate, as I have one or two matters of
importance to look into just at present. Your Majesty will, of
course, stay in London for the present?"
  "Certainly. You will find me at the Langham under the name
of the Count Von Kramm."
  "Then I shall drop you a line to let you know how we
  "Pray do so. I shall be all anxiety."
  "Then, as to money?"
  "You have carte blanche."
  "I tell you that I would give one of the provinces of my
kingdom to have that photograph."
  "And for present expenses?"
  The King took a heavy chamois leather bag from under his
cloak and laid it on the table.
  "There are three hundred pounds in gold and seven hundred in
notes," he said.
  Holmes scribbled a receipt upon a sheet of his note-book and
handed it to him.
  "And Mademoiselle's address?" he asked.
  "Is Briony Lodge, Serpentine Avenue, St. John's Wood."
  Holmes took a note of it. "One other question," said he.
"Was the photograph a cabinet?"
  "It was."
  "Then, good-night, your Majesty, and I trust that we shall
soon have some good news for you. And good-night, Watson," he
added, as the wheels of the royal brougham rolled down the street.
"If you wlll be good enough to call to-morrow afternoon at three
o'clock I should like to chat this little matter over with you."

  At three o'clock precisely I was at Baker Street, but Holmes
had not yet returned. The landlady informed me that he had left
the house shortly after eight o'clock in the morning. I sat down
beside the fire, however, with the intention of awaiting him,
however long he might be. I was already deeply interested in his
inquiry, for, though it was surrounded by none of the grim and
strange features which were associated with the two crimes
which I have already recorded, still, the nature of the case and
the exalted station of his client gave it a character of its own.
Indeed, apart from the nature of the investigation which my
friend had on hand, there was something in his masterly grasp of
a situation, and his keen, incisive reasoning, which made it a
pleasure to me to study his system of work, and to follow the
quick, subtle methods by which he disentangled the most inextri-
cable mysteries. So accustomed was I to his invariable success
that the very possibility of his failing had ceased to enter into my
  It was close upon four before the door opened, and a drunken-
looking groom, ill-kempt and side-whiskered, with an inflamed
face and disreputable clothes, walked into the room. Accustomed
as I was to my friend's amazing powers in the use of disguises, I
had to look three times before I was certain that it was indeed he.
With a nod he vanished into the bedroom, whence he emerged in
five minutes tweed-suited and respectable, as of old. Putting his
hands into his pockets, he stretched out his legs in front of the
fire and laughed heartily for some minutes.
  "Well, really!" he cried, and then he choked and laughed
again until he was obliged to lie back, limp and helpless, in the
  "What is it?"
  "It's quite too funny. I am sure you could never guess how I
employed my morning, or what I ended by doing."
  "I can't imagine. I suppose that you have been watching the
habits, and perhaps the house, of Miss Irene Adler."
  "Quite so; but the sequel was rather unusual. I will tell you,
however. I left the house a little after eight o'clock this morning
in the character of a groom out of work. There is a wonderful
sympathy and freemasonry among horsy men. Be one of them,
and you will know all that there is to know. I soon found
Briony Lodge. It is a bijou villa, with a garden at the back.
but built out in front right up to the road, two stories. Chubb
lock to the door. Large sitting-room on the right side, well
furnished, with long windows almost to the floor, and those
preposterous English window fasteners which a child could open.
Behind there was nothing remarkable, save that the passage
window could be reached from the top of the coach-house. I
walked round it and examined it closely from every point of
view, but without noting anything else of interest.
  "I then lounged down the street and found, as I expected, that
there was a mews in a lane which runs down by one wall of the
garden. I lent the ostlers a hand in rubbing down their horses,
and received in exchange twopence, a glass of half and half, two
fills of shag tobacco, and as much information as I could desire
about Miss Adler, to say nothing of half a dozen other people in
the neighbourhood in whom I was not in the least interested, but
whose biographies I was compelled to listen to."
  "And what of Irene Adler?" I asked.
  "Oh, she has turned all the men's heads down in that part.
She is the daintiest thing under a bonnet on this planet. So say
the Serpentine-mews, to a man. She lives quietly, sings at
concerts, drives out at five every day, and returns at seven sharp
for dinner. Seldom goes out at other times, except when she
sings. Has only one male visitor, but a good deal of him. He is
dark, handsome, and dashing, never calls less than once a day,
and often twice. He is a Mr. Godfrey Norton, of the Inner
Temple. See the advantages of a cabman as a confidant. They
had driven him home a dozen times from Serpentine-mews, and
knew all about him. When I had listened to all they had to tell, I
began to walk up and down near Briony Lodge once more, and
to think over my plan of campaign.
  "This Godfrey Norton was evidently an important factor in
the matter. He was a lawyer. That sounded ominous. What was
the relation between them, and what the object of his repeated
visits? Was she his client, his friend, or his mistress? If the
former, she had probably transferred the photograph to his keep-
ing. If the latter, it was less likely. On the issue of this question
depended whether I should continue my work at Briony Lodge,
or turn my attention to the gentleman's chambers in the Temple.
It was a delicate point. and it widened the field of my inquiry.
I fear that I bore you with these details, but I have to let you
see my little difficulties. if you are to understand the situation."
  "I am following you closely," I answered.
  "I was still balancing the matter in my mind when a hansom
cab drove up to Briony Lodge, and a gentleman sprang out. He
was a remarkably handsome man, dark, aquiline, and moustached
-- evidently the man of whom I had heard. He appeared to be in
a great hurry, shouted to the cabman to wait, and brushed past
the maid who opened the door with the air of a man who was
thoroughly at home.
  "He was in the house about half an hour, and I could catch
glimpses of him in the windows of the sitting-room, pacing up
and down, talking excitedly, and waving his arms. Of her I
could see nothing. Presently he emerged, looking even more
flurried than before. As he stepped up to the cab, he pulled a
gold watch from his pocket and looked at it earnestly, 'Drive like
the devil,' he shouted, 'first to Gross & Hankey's in Regent
Street, and then to the Church of St. Monica in the Edgeware
Road. Half a guinea if you do it in twenty minutes!'
  "Away they went, and I was just wondering whether I should
not do well to follow them when up the lane came a neat little
landau, the coachman with his coat only half-buttoned, and his
tie under his ear, while all the tags of his harness were sticking
out of the buckles. It hadn't pulled up before she shot out of the
hall door and into it. I only caught a glimpse of her at the
moment, but she was a lovely woman, with a face that a man
might die for.
  " 'The Church of St. Monica, John,' she cried, 'and half a
sovereign if you reach it in twenty minutes.'
  "This was quite too good to lose, Watson. I was just balanc-
ing whether I should run for it, or whether I should perch behind
her landau when a cab came through the street. The driver
looked twice at such a shabby fare, but I jumped in before he
could object. 'The Church of St. Monica,' said I, 'and half a
sovereign if you reach it in twenty minutes.' It was twenty-five
minutes to twelve, and of course it was clear enough what was in
the wind.
  "My cabby drove fast. I don't think I ever drove faster, but
the others were there before us. The cab and the landau with
their steaming horses were in front of the door when I arrived. I
paid the man and hurried into the church. There was not a soul
there save the two whom I had followed and a surpliced clergy-
man, who seemed to be expostulating with them. They were all
three standing in a knot in front of the altar. I lounged up the
side aisle like any other idler who has dropped into a church.
Suddenly, to my surprise, the three at the altar faced round to
me, and Godfrey Norton came running as hard as he could
towards me.
  " 'Thank God,' he cried. 'You'll do. Come! Come!'
  " 'What then?' I asked.
  " 'Come, man, come, only three minutes, or it won't be
  "I was half-dragged up to the altar, and before I knew where I
was I found myself mumbling responses which were whispered
in my ear. and vouching for things of which I knew nothing, and
generally assisting in the secure tying up of Irene Adler, spinster,
to Godfrey Norton, bachelor. It was all done in an instant, and
there was the gentleman thanking me on the one side and the
lady on the other, while the clergyman beamed on me in front. It
was the most preposterous position in which I ever found myself
in my life, and it was the thought of it that started me laughing
just now. It seems that there had been some informality about
their license, that the clergyman absolutely refused to marry
them without a witness of some sort, and that my lucky appear-
ance saved the bridegroom from having to sally out into the
streets in search of a best man. The bride gave me a sovereign,
and I mean to wear it on my watch-chain in memory of the
  "This is a very unexpected turn of affairs," said l; "and what
  "Well, I found my plans very seriously menaced. It looked as
if the pair might take an immediate departure, and so necessitate
very prompt and energetic measures on my part. At the church
door, however, they separated, he driving back to the Temple,
and she to her own house. 'I shall drive out in the park at five as
usual,' she said as she left him. I heard no more. They drove
away in different directions, and I went off to make my own
  "Which are?"
  "Some cold beef and a glass of beer," he answered, ringing
the bell. "I have been too busy to think of food, and I am likely
to be busier still this evening. By the way, Doctor, I shall want
your cooperation."
  "I shall be delighted."
  "You don't mind breaking the law?"
  "Not in the least."
  "Nor running a chance of arrest?"
  "Not in a good cause."
  "Oh, the cause is excellent!"
  "Then I am your man."
  "I was sure that I might rely on you."
  "But what is it you wish?"
  "When Mrs. Turner has brought in the tray I will make it
clear to you. Now," he said as he turned hungrily on the simple
fare that our landlady had provided, "I must discuss it while I
eat, for I have not much time. It is nearly five now. In two hours
we must be on the scene of action. Miss Irene, or Madame,
rather, returns from her drive at seven. We must be at Briony
Lodge to meet her."
  "And what then?"
  "You must leave that to me. I have already arranged what is
to occur. There is only one point on which I must insist. You
must not interfere, come what may. You understand?"
  "I am to be neutral?"
  "To do nothing whatever. There will probably be some small
unpleasantness. Do not join in it. It will end in my being
conveyed into the house. Four or five minutes afterwards the
sitting-room window will open. You are to station yourself close
to that open window."
  "You are to watch me, for I will be visible to you."
  "And when I raise my hand -- so -- you will throw into the
room what I give you to throw, and will, at the same time, raise
the cry of fire. You quite follow me?"
  "It is nothing very formidable," he said, taking a long cigar-
shaped roll from his pocket. "It is an ordinary plumber's smoke-
rocket, fitted with a cap at either end to make it self-lighting.
Your task is confined to that. When you raise your cry of fire,
it will be taken up by quite a number of people. You may then
walk to the end of the street, and I will rejoin you in ten minutes.
I hope that I have made myself clear?"
  "I am to remain neutral, to get near the window, to watch
you, and at the signal to throw in this object, then to raise the cry
of fire, and to wait you at the comer of the street."
  "Then you may entirely rely on me."
  "That is excellent. I think, perhaps, it is almost time that I
prepare for the new role I have to play."
  He disappeared into his bedroom and returned in a few min-
utes in the character of an amiable and simple-minded Noncon-
formist clergyman. His broad black hat, his baggy trousers. his
white tie, his sympathetic smile, and general look of peering and
benevolent curiosity were such as Mr. John Hare alone could
have equalled. It was not merely that Holmes changed his cos-
tume. His expression, his manner, his very soul seemed to vary
with every fresh part that he assumed. The stage lost a fine actor,
even as science lost an acute reasoner, when he became a
specialist in crime.
  It was a quarter past six when we left Baker Street, and it still
wanted ten minutes to the hour when we found ourselves in
Serpentine Avenue. It was already dusk, and the lamps were just
being lighted as we paced up and down in front of Briony
Lodge, waiting for the coming of its occupant. The house was
just such as I had pictured it from Sherlock Holmes's succinct
description, but the locality appeared to be less private than I
expected. On the contrary, for a small street in a quiet
neighbourhood, it was remarkably animated. There was a group
of shabbily dressed men smoking and laughing in a corner, a
scissors-grinder with his wheel, two guardsmen who were flirt-
ing with a nurse-girl, and several well-dressed young men who
were lounging up and down with cigars in their mouths.
  "You see," remarked Holmes, as we paced to and fro in front
of the house, "this marriage rather simplifies matters. The pho-
tograph becomes a double-edged weapon now. The chances are
that she would be as averse to its being seen by Mr. Godfrey
Norton, as our client is to its coming to the eyes of his princess.
Now the question is, Where are we to find the photograph?"
  "Where, indeed?"
  "It is most unlikely that she carries it about with her. It is
cabinet size. Too large for easy concealment about a woman's
dress. She knows that the King is capable of having her waylaid
and searched. Two attempts of the sort have already been made.
We may take it, then, that she does not carry it about with her."
  "Where, then?"
  "Her banker or her lawyer. There is that double possibility.
But I am inclined to think neither. Women are naturally secre-
tive, and they like to do their own secreting. Why should she
hand it over to anyone else? She could trust her own guardian-
ship, but she could not tell what indirect or political influence
might be brought to bear upon a business man. Besides, remem-
ber that she had resolved to use it within a few days. It must be
where she can lay her hands upon it. It must be in her own
  "But it has twice been burgled."
  "Pshaw! They did not know how to look."
  "But how will you look?"
  "I will not look."
  "What then?"
  "I will get her to show me."
  "But she will refuse."
  "She will not be able to. But I hear the rumble of wheels. It is
hcr carriage. Now carry out my orders to the letter."
  As he spoke the gleam of the side-lights of a carriage came
round the curve of the avenue. It was a smart little landau which
rattled up to the door of Briony Lodge. As it pulled up, one of
the loafing men at the corner dashed forward to open the door in
the hope of earning a copper, but was elbowed away by another
loafer, who had rushed up with the same intention. A fierce
quarrel broke out, which was increased by the two guardsmen,
who took sides with one of the loungers, and by the scissors-
grinder, who was equally hot upon the other side. A blow was
struck, and in an instant the lady, who had stepped from her
carriage, was the centre of a little knot of flushed and struggling
men, who struck savagely at each other with their fists and
sticks. Holmes dashed into the crowd to protect the lady; but just
as he reached her he gave a cry and dropped to the ground, with
the blood running freely down his face. At his fall the guardsmen
took to their heels in one direction and the loungers in the other,
while a number of better-dressed people, who had watched the
scuffle without taking part in it, crowded in to help the lady and
to attend to the injured man. Irene Adler, as I will still call her,
had hurried up the steps; but she stood at the top with her superb
figure outlined against the lights of the hall, looking back into
the street.
  "Is the poor gentleman much hurt?" she asked.
  "He is dead," cried several voices.
  "No, no, there's life in him!" shouted another. "But he'll be
gone before you can get him to hospital."
  "He's a brave fellow," said a woman. "They would have had
the lady's purse and watch if it hadn't been for him. They were a
gang, and a rough one, too. Ah, he's breathing now."
  "He can't lie in the street. May we bring him in, marm?"
  "Surely. Bring him into the sitting room. There is a comfort-
able sofa. This way, please!"
  Slowly and solemnly he was borne into Briony Lodge and laid
out in the principal room, while I still observed the proceedings
from my post by the window. The lamps had been lit, but the
blinds had not been drawn, so that I could see Holmes as he lay
upon the couch. I do not know whether he was seized with
compunction at that moment for the part he was playing, but I
know that I never felt more heartily ashamed of myself in my life
than when I saw the beautiful creature against whom I was
conspiring, or the grace and kindliness with which she waited
upon the injured man. And yet it would be the blackest treachery
to Holmes to draw back now from the part which he had
intrusted to me. I hardened my heart, and took the smoke-rocket
from under my ulster. After all, I thought, we are not injuring
her. We are but preventing her from injuring another.
  Holmes had sat up upon the couch, and I saw him motion like
a man who is in need of air. A maid rushed across and threw
open the window. At the same instant I saw him raise his hand
and at the signal I tossed my rocket into the room with a cry of
"Fire!" The word was no sooner out of my mouth than the whole
crowd of spectators, well dressed and ill -- gentlemen, ostlers,
and servant-maids -- joined in a general shriek of "Fire!" Thick
clouds of smoke curled through the room and out at the open
window. I caught a glimpse of rushing figures, and a moment
later the voice of Holmes from within assuring them that it was a
false alarm. Slipping through the shouting crowd I made my way
to the corner of the street, and in ten minutes was rejoiced to find
my friend's arm in mine, and to get away from the scene of
uproar. He walked swiftly and in silence for some few minutes
until we had turned down one of the quiet streets which lead
towards the Edgeware Road.
  "You did it very nicely, Doctor," he remarked. "Nothing
could have been better. It is all right."
  "You have the photograph?"
  "I know where it is."
  "And how did you find out?"
  "She showed me, as I told you she would."
  "I am still in the dark."
  "I do not wish to make a mystery," said he, laughing. "The
matter was perfectly simple. You, of course, saw that everyone
in the street was an accomplice. They were all engaged for the
  "I guessed as much."
  "Then, when the row broke out, I had a little moist red paint
in the palm of my hand. I rushed forward, fell down. clapped my
hand to my face, and became a piteous spectacle. It is an old
  "That also I could fathom."
  "Then they carried me in. She was bound to have me in.
What else could she do? And into her sitting-room. which was
the very room which I suspected. It lay between that and her
bedroom, and I was determined to see which. They laid me on a
couch, I motioned for air, they were compelled to open the
window. and you had your chance."
  "How did that help you?"
  "It was all-important. When a woman thinks that her house is
on fire, her instinct is at once to rush to the thing which she
values most. It is a perfectly overpowering impulse, and I have
more than once taken advantage of it. In the case of the Darling-
ton substitution scandal it was of use to me, and also in the
Arnsworth Castle business. A married woman grabs at her baby;
an unmarried one reaches for her jewel-box. Now it was clear to
me that our lady of to-day had nothing in the house more
precious to her than what we are in quest of. She would rush to
secure it. The alarm of fire was admirably done. The smoke and
shouting were enough to shake nerves of steel. She responded
beautifully. The photograph is in a recess behind a sliding panel
just above the right bell-pull. She was there in an instant, and I
caught a glimpse of it as she half-drew it out. When I cried out
that it was a false alarm, she replaced it, glanced at the rocket,
rushed from the room, and I have not seen her since. I rose, and,
making my excuses, escaped from the house. I hesitated whether
to attempt to secure the photograph at once; but the coachman
had come in, and as he was watching me narrowly it seemed
safer to wait. A little over-precipitance may ruin all."
  "And now?" I asked.
  "Our quest is practically finished. I shall call with the King
to-morrow, and with you, if you care to come with us. We will
be shown into the sitting-room to wait for the lady; but it is
probable that when she comes she may find neither us nor the
photograph. It might be a satisfaction to his Majesty to regain it
with his own hands."
  "And when will you call?"
  "At eight in the morning. She will not be up, so that we shall
have a clear field. Besides, we must be prompt, for this marriage
may mean a complete change in her life and habits. I must wire
to the King without delay."
  We had reached Baker Street and had stopped at the door. He
was searching his pockets for the key when someone passing
  "Good-night, Mister Sherlock Holmes."
  There were several people on the pavement at the time, but the
greeting appeared to come from a slim youth in an ulster who
had hurried by.
  "I've heard that voice before," said Holmes, staring down the
dimly lit street. "Now, I wonder who the deuce that could have

  I slept at Baker Street that night, and we were engaged upon
our toast and coffee in the morning when the King of Bohemia
rushed into the room.
  "You have really got it!" he cried, grasping Sherlock Holmes
by either shoulder and looking eagerly into his face.
  "Not yet."
  "But you have hopes?"
  "I have hopes."
  "Then, come. I am all impatience to be gone."
  "We must have a cab."
  "No, my brougham is waiting."
  "Then that will simplify matters." We descended and started
off once more for Briony Lodge.
  "Irene Adler is married," remarked Holmes.
  "Married! When?"
  "But to whom?"
  "To an English lawyer named Norton."
  "But she could not love him."
  "I am in hopes that she does."
  "And why in hopes?"
  "Because it would spare your Majesty all fear of future an-
noyance. If the lady loves her husband, she does not love your
Majesty. If she does not love your Majesty, there is no reason
why she should interfere with your Majesty's plan."
  "It is true. And yet Well! I wish she had been of my own
station! What a queen she would have made!" He relapsed into a
moody silence, which was not broken until we drew up in
Serpentine Avenue.
  The door of Briony Lodge was open, and an elderly woman
stood upon the steps. She watched us with a sardonic eye as we
stepped from the brougham.
  "Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I believe?" said she.
  "I am Mr. Holmes," answered my companion, looking at her
with a questioning and rather startled gaze.
  "Indeed! My mistress told me that you were likely to call. She
left this morning with her husband by the 5:15 train from Char-
ing Cross for the Continent."
  "What!" Sherlock Holmes staggered back, white with chagrin
and surprise. "Do you mean that she has left England?"
  "Never to return."
  "And the papers?" asked the King hoarsely. "All is lost."
  "We shall see." He pushed past the servant and rushed into
the drawing-room, followed by the King and myself. The furni-
ture was scattered about in every direction, with dismantled
shelves and open drawers, as if the lady had hurriedly ransacked
them before her flight. Holmes rushed at the bell-pull, tore back
a small sliding shutter, and, plunging in his hand, pulled out a
photograph and a letter. The photograph was of Irene Adler
herself in evening dress, the letter was superscribed to "Sherlock
Holmes, Esq. To be left till called for." My friend tore it open
and we all three read it together. It was dated at midnight of the
preceding night and ran in this way:

       You really did it very well. You took me in completely.
     Until after the alarm of fire, I had not a suspicion. But then,
     when I found how I had betrayed myself, I began to think. I
     had been warned against you months ago. I had been told
     that if the King employed an agent it would certainly be
     you. And your address had been given me. Yet, with all
     this, you made me reveal what you wanted to know. Even
     after I became suspicious, I found it hard to think evil of
     such a dear, kind old clergyman. But, you know, I have
     been trained as an actress myself. Male costume is nothing
     new to me. I often take advantage of the freedom which it
     gives. I sent John, the coachman, to watch you, ran up-
     stairs, got into my walking-clothes, as I call them, and
     came down just as you departed.
       Well, I followed you to your door, and so made sure that
     I was really an object of interest to the celebrated Mr.
     Sherlock Holmes. Then I, rather imprudently, wished you
     good-night, and started for the Temple to see my husband.
       We both thought the best resource was flight, when
     pursued by so formidable an antagonist; so you will find the
     nest empty when you call to-morrow. As to the photograph,
     your client may rest in peace. I love and am loved by a
     better man than he. The King may do what he will without
     hindrance from one whom he has cruelly wronged. I keep it
     only to safeguard myself, and to preserve a weapon which
     will always secure me from any steps which he might take
     in the future. I leave a photograph which he might care to
     possess; and I remain, dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes,

                                              Very truly yours,
                                       Irene Norton, nee ADLER.

  "What a woman -- oh, what a woman!" cried the King of
Bohemia, when we had all three read this epistle. "Did I not tell
you how quick and resolute she was? Would she not have made
an admirable queen? Is it not a pity that she was not on my
  "From what I have seen of the lady she seems indeed to be on
a very different level to your Majesty," said Holmes coldly. "I
am sorry that I have not been able to bring your Majesty's
business to a more successful conclusion."
  "On the contrary, my dear sir," cried the King; "nothing
could be more successful. I know that her word is inviolate. The
photograph is now as safe as if it were in the fire."
  "I am glad to hear your Majesty say so."
  "I am immensely indebted to you. Pray tell me in what way I
can reward you. This ring " He slipped an emerald snake ring
from his finger and held it out upon the palm of his hand.
  "Your Majesty has something which I should value even more
highly,'' said Holmes.
  ''You have but to name it."
  ''This photograph!''
  The King stared at him in amazement.
  "Irene's photogMph!" he cried. "Certainly, if you wish it.''
  "I thank your Majesty. Then there is no more to be done in
the matter. I have the honour to wish you a very good-morning."
He bowed, and, turning away without observing the hand which
the King had stretched out to him, he set off in my company for
his chambers.

  And that was how a great scandal threatened to affect the
kingdom of Bohemia, and how the best plans of Mr. Sherlock
Holmes were beaten by a woman's wit. He used to make merry
over the cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do it of
late. And when he speaks of Irene Adler, or when he refers to
her photograph, it is always under the honourable title of the

                  The Red-headed League

  I had called upon my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, one day in
the autumn of last year and found him in deep conversation with
a very stout, florid-faced, elderly gentleman with fiery red hair.
With an apology for my intrusion, I was about to withdraw when
Holmes pulled me abruptly into the room and closed the door
behind me.
  "You could not possibly have come at a better time, my dear
Watson," he said cordially.
  "I was afraid that you were engaged."
  "So I am. Very much so."
  "Then I can wait in the next room."
  "Not at all. This gentleman, Mr. Wilson, has been my partner
and helper in many of my most successful cases, and I have no
doubt that he will be of the utmost use to me in yours also."
  The stout gentleman half rose from his chair and gave a bob of
greeting, with a quick little questioning glance from his small
fat-encircled eyes.
  "Try the settee," said Holmes, relapsing into his armchair
and putting his fingertips together, as was his custom when in
judicial moods. "I know, my dear Watson, that you share my
love of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions and
humdrum routine of everyday life. You have shown your relish
for it by the enthusiasm which has prompted you to chronicle,
and, if you will excuse my saying so, somewhat to embellish so
many of my own little adventures."
  "Your cases have indeed been of the greatest interest to me,"
I observed.
  "You will remember that I remarked the other day, just before
we went into the very simple problem presented by Miss Mary
Sutherland, that for strange effects and extraordinary combina-
tions we must go to life itself, which is always far more daring
than any effort of the imagination."
  "A proposition which I took the liberty of doubting."
  "You did, Doctor, but none the less you must come round to
my view, for otherwise I shall keep on piling fact upon fact on
you until your reason breaks down under them and acknowledges
me to be right. Now, Mr. Jabez Wilson here has been good
enough to call upon me this morning, and to begin a narrative
which promises to be one of the most singular which I have
listened to for some time. You have heard me remark that the
strangest and most unique things are very often connected not
with the larger but with the smaller crimes, and occasionally,
indeed, where there is room for doubt whether any positive
crime has been committed. As far as I have heard it is impossible
for me to say whether the present case is an instance of crime or
not, but the course of events is certainly among the most singular
that I have ever listened to. Perhaps, Mr. Wilson, you would
have the great kindness to recommence your narrative. I ask you
not merely because my friend Dr. Watson has not heard the
opening part but also because the peculiar nature of the story
makes me anxious to have every possible detail from your lips.
As a rule, when I have heard some slight indication of the course
of events, I am able to guide myself by the thousands of other
similar cases which occur to my memory. In the present instance
I am forced to admit that the facts are, to the best of my belief,
  The portly client puffed out his chest with an appearance of
some little pride and pulled a dirty and wrinkled newspaper from
the inside pocket of his greatcoat. As he glanced down the
advertisement column, with his head thrust forward and the
paper flattened out upon his knee, I took a good look at the man
and endeavoured, after the fashion of my companion, to read the
indications which might be presented by his dress or appearance.
  I did not gain very much, however, by my inspection. Our
visitor bore every mark of being an average commonplace Brit-
ish tradesman, obese, pompous, and slow. He wore rather baggy
gray shepherd's check trousers, a not over-clean black frock-
coat, unbuttoned in the front, and a drab waistcoat with a heavy
brassy Albert chain, and a square pierced bit of metal dangling
down as an ornament. A frayed top-hat and a faded brown
overcoat with a wrinkled velvet collar lay upon a chair beside
him. Altogether, look as I would, there was nothing remarkable
about the man save his blazing red head, and the expression of
extreme chagrin and discontent upon his features.
  Sherlock Holmes's quick eye took in my occupation, and he
shook his head with a smile as he noticed my questioning
glances. "Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some time
done manual labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason.
that he has been in China, and that he has done a considerable
amount of writing lately, I can deduce nothing else."
  Mr. Jabez Wilson started up in his chair, with his forefinger
upon the paper, but his eyes upon my companion.
  "How, in the name of good-fortune, did you know all that,
Mr. Holmes?" he asked. "How did you know, for example, that
I did manual labour? It's as true as gospel, for I began as a ship's
  "Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is quite a size
larger than your left. You have worked with it, and the muscles
are more developed."
  "Well, the snuff, then, and the Freemasonry?"
  "I won't insult your intelligence by telling you how I read
that, especially as, rather against the strict rules of your order,
you use an arc-and-compass breastpin."
  "Ah, of course, I forgot that. But the writing?"
  "What else can be indicated by that right cuff so very shiny
for five inches, and the left one with the smooth patch near the
elbow where you rest it upon the desk?"
  "Well, but China?"
  "The fish that you have tattooed immediately above your right
wrist could only have been done in China. I have made a small
study of tattoo marks and have even contributed to the literature
of the subject. That trick of staining the fishes' scales of a
delicate pink is quite peculiar to China. When, in addition, I see
a Chinese coin hanging from your watch-chain, the matter be-
comes even more simple."
  Mr. Jabez Wilson laughed heavily. "Well, I never!" said he.
"I thought at first that you had done something clever, but I see
that there was nothing in it, after all."
  "I begin to think, Watson," said Holmes, "that I make a
mistake in explaining. 'Omne ignotum pro magnifico,' you know,
and my poor little reputation, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck
if I am so candid. Can you not find the advertisement, Mr.
  "Yes, I have got it now," he answered with his thick red
finger planted halfway down the column. "Here it is. This is
what began it all. You just read it for yourself, sir."
  I took the paper from him and read as follows.

       On account of the bequest of the late Ezekiah Hopkins, of
     Lebanon, Pennsylvania, U. S. A., there is now another
     vacancy open which entitles a member of the League to a
     salary of 4 pounds a week for purely nominal services. All red-
     headed men who are sound in body and mind and above
     the age of twenty-one years, are eligible. Appiy in person
     on Monday, at eleven o'clock, to Duncan Ross, at the
     offices of the League, 7 Pope's Coun, Fleet Street.

  "What on earth does this mean?" I ejaculated after I had
twice read over the extraordinary announcement.
  Holmes chuckled and wriggled in his chair, as was his habit
when in high spirits. "It is a little off the beaten track, isn't it?"
said he. "And now, Mr. Wilson, off you go at scratch and tell
us all about yourself, your household, and the effect which this
advertisement had upon your fortunes. You will first make a
note, Doctor, of the paper and the date."
  "It is The Morning Chronicle of April 27, 1890. Just two
months ago."
  "Very good. Now, Mr. Wilson?"
  "Well, it is just as I have been telling you, Mr. Sherlock
Holmes," said Jabez Wilson, mopping his forehead; "I have a
small pawnbroker's business at Coburg Square, near the City.
It's not a very large affair, and of late years it has not done more
than just give me a living. I used to be able to keep two
assistants, but now I only keep one; and I would have a job to
pay him but that he is willing to come for half wages so as to
learn the business."
  "What is the name of this obliging youth?" asked Sherlock
  "His name is Vincent Spaulding, and he's not such a youth,
either. It's hard to say his age. I should not wish a smarter
assistant, Mr. Holmes; and I know very well that he could better
himself and earn twice what I am able to give him. But, after all,
if he is satisfied, why should I put ideas in his head?"
  "Why, indeed? You seem most fortunate in having an em-
ployee who comes under the full market price. It is not a
common experience among employers in this age. I don't know
that your assistant is not as remarkable as your advertisement."
  "Oh, he has his faults, too," said Mr. Wilson. "Never was
such a fellow for photography. Snapping away with a camera
when he ought to be improving his mind, and then diving down
into the cellar like a rabbit into its hole to develop his pictures.
That is his main fault, but on the whole he's a good worker.
There's no vice in him."
  "He is still with you, I presume?"
  "Yes, sir. He and a girl of fourteen, who does a bit of simple
cooking and keeps the place clean -- that's all I have in the
house, for I am a widower and never had any family. We live
very quietly, sir, the three of us; and we keep a roof over our
heads and pay our debts, if we do nothing more.
  "The first thing that put us out was that advertisement.
Spaulding, he came down into the office just this day eight
weeks, with this very paper in his hand, and he says:
  " 'I wish to the Lord, Mr. Wilson, that I was a red-headed
  " 'Why that?' I asks.
  " 'Why,' says he, 'here's another vacancy on the League of
the Red-headed Men. It's worth quite a little fortune to any man
who gets it, and I understand that there are more vacancies than
there are men, so that the trustees are at their wits' end what to
do with the money. If my hair would only change colour, here's
a nice little crib all ready for me to step into.'
  " 'Why, what is it, then?' I asked. You see. Mr. Holmes, I
am a very stay-at-home man, and as my business came to me
instead of my having to go to it, I was often weeks on end
without putting my foot over the door-mat. In that way I didn't
know much of what was going on outside, and I was always glad
of a bit of news.
  " 'Have you never heard of the League of the Red-headed
Men?' he asked with his eyes open.
  " 'Never.'
  " 'Why, [ wonder at that, for you are eligibile yourself for
one of the vacancies.'
  " 'And what are they worth?' I asked.
  " 'Oh, merely a couple of hundred a year, but the work is
slight, and it need not interfere very much with one's other
  "Well, you can easily think that that made me prick up my
ears, for the business has not been over-good for some years,
and an extra couple of hundred would have been very handy.
  " 'Tell me all about it,' said I.
  " 'Well ' said he. showing me the advertisement. 'you can
see for yourself that the League has a vacancy, and there is the
address where you should apply for particulars. As far as I can
make out, the League was founded by an American millionaire.
Ezekiah Hopkins, who was very peculiar in his ways. He was
himself red-headed, and he had a great sympathy for all red-
headed men; so when he died it was found that he had left his
enormous fortune in the hands of trustees, with instructions to
apply the interest to the providing of easy berths to men whose
hair is of that colour. From all I hear it is splendid pay and very
little to do.'
  " 'But,' said I, 'there would be millions of red-headed men
who would apply.'
  " 'Not so many as you might think,' he answered. 'You see it
is really confined to Londoners, and to grown men. This Ameri-
can had started from London when he was young, and he wanted
to do the old town a good turn. Then, again, I have heard it is no
use your applying if your hair is light red, or dark red, or
anything but real bright, blazing, fiery red. Now, if you cared to
apply, Mr. Wilson, you would just walk in; but perhaps it would
hardly be worth your while to put yourself out of the way for the
sake of a few hundred pounds.'
  "Now, it is a fact, gentlemen, as you may see for yourselves,
that my hair is of a very full and rich tint, so that it seemed to me
that if there was to be any competition in the matter I stood as
good a chance as any man that I had ever met. Vincent Spaulding
seemed to know so much about it that I thought he might prove
useful, so I just ordered him to put up the shutters for the day and
to come right away with me. He was very willing to have a
holiday, so we shut the business up and started off for the
address that was given us in the advertisement.
  "I never hope to see such a sight as that again, Mr. Holmes.
From north, south, east, and west every man who had a shade of
red in his hair had tramped into the city to answer the advertise-
ment. Fleet Street was choked with red-headed folk, and Pope's
Court looked like a coster's orange barrow. I should not have
thought there were so many in the whole country as were brought
together by that single advertisement. Every shade of colour they
were -- straw, lemon, orange, brick, Irish-setter, liver, clay; but,
as Spaulding said, there were not many who had the real vivid
flame-coloured tint. When I saw how many were waiting, I
would have given it up in despair; but Spaulding would not hear
of it. How he did it I could not imagine, but he pushed and
pulled and butted until he got me through the crowd, and right
up to the steps which led to the office. There was a double
stream upon the stair, some going up in hope, and some coming
back dejected; but we wedged in as well as we could and soon
found ourselves in the office."
  "Your experience has been a most entertaining one," re-
marked Holmes as his client paused and refreshed his memory
with a huge pinch of snuff. "Pray continue your very interesting
  "There was nothing in the office but a couple of wooden
chairs and a deal table, behind which sat a small man with a
head that was even redder than mine. He said a few words to
each candidate as he came up, and then he always managed to
find some fault in them which would disqualify them. Getting a
vacancy did not seem to be such a very easy matter, after all.
However, when our turn came the little man was much more
favourable to me than to any of the others, and he closed the
door as we entered, so that he might have a private word with
  " 'This is Mr. Jabez Wilson,' said my assistant, 'and he is
willing to fill a vacancy in the League.'
  " 'And he is admirably suited for it,' the other answered. 'He
has every requirement. I cannot recall when I have seen anything
so fine.' He took a step backward, cocked his head on one side,
and gazed at my hair until I felt quite bashful. Then suddenly he
plunged forward, wrung my hand, and congratulated me warmly
on my success.
  " 'It would be injustice to hesitate,' said he. 'You will,
however, I am sure, excuse me for taking an obvious precaution.'
With that he seized my hair in both his hands, and tugged until I
yelled with the pain. 'There is water in your eyes,' said he as he
released me. 'I perceive that all is as it should be. But we have
to be careful, for we have twice been deceived by wigs and once
by paint. I could tell you tales of cobbler's wax which would
disgust you with human nature.' He stepped over to the window
and shouted through it at the top of his voice that the vacancy
was filled. A groan of disappointment came up from below, and
the folk all trooped away in different directions until there was
not a red-head to be seen except my own and that of the
  " 'My name,' said he, 'is Mr. Duncan Ross, and I am myself
one of the pensioners upon the fund left by our noble benefactor.
Are you a married man, Mr. Wilson? Have you a family?'
  "I answered that I had not.
  "His face fell immediately.
  " 'Dear me!' he said gravely, 'that is very serious indeed! I
am sorry to hear you say that. The fund was, of course, for the
propagation and spread of the red-heads as well as for their
maintenance. It is exceedingly unfortunate that you should be a
  "My face lengthened at this, Mr. Holmes, for I thought that I
was not to have the vacancy after all; but after thinking it over
for a few minutes he said that it would be all right.
  " 'In the case of another,' said he, 'the objection might be
fatal, but we must stretch a point in favour of a man with such a
head of hair as yours. When shall you be able to enter upon your
new duties?'
  " 'Well, it is a little awkward, for I have a business already,'
said I.
  " 'Oh, never mind about that, Mr. Wilson!' said Vincent
Spaulding. 'I should be able to look after that for you.'
  " 'What would be the hours?' I asked.
  " 'Ten to two.'
  "Now a pawnbroker's business is mostly done of an evening,
Mr. Holmes, especially Thursday and Friday evening, which is
just before pay-day; so it would suit me very well to earn a little
in the mornings. Besides, I knew that my assistant was a good
man, and that he would see to anything that turned up.
  " 'That would suit me very well,' said I. 'And the pay?'
  " 'Is 4 pounds a week.'
  " 'And the work?'
  " 'Is purely nominal.'
  " 'What do you call purely nominal?'
  " 'Well, you have to be in the office, or at least in the
building, the whole time. If you leave, you forfeit your whole
position forever. The will is very clear upon that point. You
don't comply with the conditions if you budge from the office
during that time.'
  " 'It's only four hours a day, and I should not think of
leaving,' said I.
  " 'No excuse will avail,' said Mr. Duncan Ross; 'neither
sickness nor business nor anything else. There you must stay, or
you lose your billet.'
  " 'And the work?'
  " 'Is to copy out the Encyclopedia Britannica. There is the
first volume of it in that press. You must find your own ink.
pens, and blotting-paper, but we provide this table and chair.
Will you be ready to-morrow?'
  " 'Certainly,' I answered.
  " 'Then, good-bye, Mr. Jabez Wilson, and let me congratu-
late you once more on the important position which you have
been fortunate enough to gain.' He bowed me out of the room
and I went home with my assistant, hardly knowing what to say
or do, I was so pleased at my own good fortune.
  "Well, I thought over the matter all day, and by evening I was
in low spirits again; for I had quite persuaded myself that the
whole affair must be some great hoax or fraud, though what its
object might be I could not imagine. It seemed altogether past
belief that anyone could make such a will, or that they would
pay such a sum for doing anything so simple as copying out the
Encyclopedia Britannica. Vincent Spaulding did what he could
to cheer me up, but by bedtime I had reasoned myself out of the
whole thing. However, in the morning I determined to have a
look at it anyhow, so I bought a penny bottle of ink, and with a
quill-pen, and seven sheets of foolscap paper, I started off for
Pope's Court.
  "Well, to my surprise and delight, everything was as right as
possible. The table was set out ready for me, and Mr. Duncan
Ross was there to see that I got fairly to work. He started me off
upon the letter A, and then he left me; but he would drop in from
time to time to see that all was right with me. At two o'clock he
bade me good-day, complimented me upon the amount that I
had written, and locked the door of the office after me.
  "This went on day after day, Mr. Holmes, and on Saturday
the manager came in and planked down four golden sovereigns
for my week's work. It was the same next week, and the same
the week after. Every morning I was there at ten, and every
afternoon I left at two. By degrees Mr. Duncan Ross took to
coming in only once of a morning, and then, after a time, he did
not come in at all. Still, of course, I never dared to leave the
room for an instant, for I was not sure when he might come, and
the billet was such a good one, and suited me so well, that I
would not risk the loss of it.
  "Eight weeks passed away like this, and I had written about
Abbots and Archery and Armour and Architecture and Attica,
and hoped with diligence that I might get on to the B's before
very long. It cost me something in foolscap, and I had pretty
nearly filled a shelf with my writings. And then suddenly the
whole business came to an end."
  "To an end?"
  "Yes, sir. And no later than this morning. I went to my work
as usual at ten o'clock, but the door was shut and locked, with a
little square of card-board hammered on to the middle of the
panel with a tack. Here it is, and you can read for yourself."
  He held up a piece of white card-board about the size of a
sheet of note-paper. It read in this fashion:

                    THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE
                       October 9, 1890.

  Sherlock Holmes and I surveyed this curt announcement and
the rueful face behind it, until the comical side of the affair so
completely overtopped every other consideration that we both
burst out into a roar of laughter.
  "I cannot see that there is anything very funny," cried our
client, flushing up to the roots of his flaming head. "If you can
do nothing better than laugh at me, I can go elsewhere."
  "No, no," cried Holmes, shoving him back into the chair
from which he had half risen. "I really wouldn't miss your case
for the world. It is most refreshingly unusual. But there is, if you
will excuse my saying so, something just a little funny about it.
Pray what steps did you take when you found the card upon the
  "I was staggered, sir. I did not know what to do. Then I
called at the offices round, but none of them seemed to know
anything about it. Finally, I went to the landlord, who is an
accountant living on the ground-floor, and I asked him if he
could tell me what had become of the Red-headed League. He
said that he had never heard of any such body. Then I asked him
who Mr. Duncan Ross was. He answered that the name was new
to him.
  " 'Well,' said I, 'the gentleman at No. 4.'
  " 'What, the red-headed man?'
  " 'Yes.'
  " 'Oh,' said he, 'his name was William Morris. He was a
solicitor and was using my room as a temporary convenience
until his new premises were ready. He moved out yesterday.'
  " 'Where could I find him?'
  " 'Oh, at his new offices. He did tell me the address. Yes, 17
King Edward Street, near St. Paul's.'
  "I started off, Mr. Holmes, but when I got to that address it
was a manufactory of artificial knee-caps, and no one in it had
ever heard of either Mr. William Morris or Mr. Duncan Ross."
  "And what did you do then?" asked Holmes.
  "I went home to Saxe-Coburg Square, and I took the advice
of my assistant. But he could not help me in any way. He could
only say that if I waited I should hear by post. But that was not
quite good enough, Mr. Holmes. I did not wish to lose such a
place without a struggle, so, as I had heard that you were good
enough to give advice to poor folk who were in need of it, I
came right away to you."
  "And you did very wisely," said Holmes. "Your case is an
exceedingly remarkable one, and I shall be happy to look into it.
From what you have told me I think that it is possible that graver
issues hang from it than might at first sight appear."
  "Grave enough!" said Mr. Jabez Wilson. "Why, I have lost
four pound a week."
  "As far as you are personally concerned," remarked Holmes,
"I do not see that you have any grievance against this extraordi-
nary league. On the contrary, you are, as I understand, richer by
some 30 pounds, to say nothing of the minute knowledge which you
have gained on every subject which comes under the letter A.
You have lost nothing by them."
  "No, sir. But I want to find out about them, and who they
are, and what their object was in playing this prank -- if it was a
prank -- upon me. It was a pretty expensive joke for them, for it
cost them two and thirty pounds."
  "We shall endeavour to clear up these points for you. And,
first, one or two questions, Mr. Wilson. This assistant of yours
who first called your attention to the advertisement -- how long
had he been with you?"
  "About a month then."
  "How did he come?"
  "In answer to an advertisement."
  "Was he the only applicant?"
  "No, I had a dozen."
  "Why did you pick him?"
  "Because he was handy and would come cheap."
  "At half-wages, in fact."
  "What is he like, this Vincent Spaulding?"
  "Small, stout-built, very quick in his ways, no hair on his
face, though he's not short of thirty. Has a white splash of acid
upon his forehead."
  Holmes sat up in his chair in considerable excitement. "I
thought as much," said he. "Have you ever observed that his
ears are pierced for earrings?"
  "Yes, sir. He told me that a gypsy had done it for him when
he was a lad."
  "Hum!" said Holmes, sinking back in deep thought. "He is
still with you?"
  "Oh, yes, sir; I have only just left him."
  "And has your business been attended to in your absence?"
  "Nothing to complain of, sir. There's never very much to do
of a morning."
  "That will do, Mr. Wilson. I shall be happy to give you an
opinion upon the subject in the course of a day or two. To-day is
Saturday, and I hope that by Monday we may come to a
  "Well, Watson," said Holmes when our visitor had left us,
"what do you make of it all?"
  "I make nothing of it," I answered frankly. "It is a most
mysterious business."
  "As a rule," said Holmes, "the more bizarre a thing is the
less mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, feature-
less crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace
face is the most difficult to identify. But I must be prompt over
this matter."
  "What are you going to do, then?" I asked.
  "To smoke," he answered. "It is quite a three pipe problem,
and I beg that you won't speak to me for fifty minutes." He
curled himself up in his chair, with his thin knees drawn up to
his hawk-like nose, and there he sat with his eyes closed and his
black clay pipe thrusting out like the bill of some strange bird. I
had come to the conclusion that he had dropped asleep, and
indeed was nodding myself, when he suddenly sprang out of his
chair with the gesture of a man who has made up his mind and
put his pipe down upon the mantelpiece.
  "Sarasate plays at the St. James's Hall this afternoon," he
remarked. "What do you think, Watson? Could your patients
spare you for a few hours?"
  "I have nothing to do to-day. My practice is never very
  "Then put on your hat and come. I am going through the City
first, and we can have some lunch on the way. I observe that
there is a good deal of German music on the programme, which
is rather more to my taste than Italian or French. It is introspec-
tive, and I want to introspect. Come along!"
  We travelled by the Underground as far as Aldersgate; and a
short walk took us to Saxe-Coburg Square, the scene of the
singular story which we had listened to in the morning. It was a
poky, little, shabby-genteel place, where four lines of dingy
two-storied brick houses looked out into a small railed-in enclo-
sure, where a lawn of weedy grass and a few clumps of faded
laurel-bushes made a hard fight against a smoke-laden and
uncongenial atmosphere. Three gilt balls and a brown board with
"JABEZ WILSON" in white letters, upon a corner house, announced
the place where our red-headed client carried on his business.
Sherlock Holmes stopped in front of it with his head on one side
and looked it all over, with his eyes shining brightly between
puckered lids. Then he walked slowly up the street, and then
down again to the corner, still looking keenly at the houses.
Finally he returned to the pawnbroker's, and, having thumped
vigorously upon the pavement with his stick two or three times,
he went up to the door and knocked. It was instantly opened by a
bright-looking, clean-shaven young fellow, who asked him to
step in.
  "Thank you," said Holmes, "I only wished to ask you how
you would go from here to the Strand."
  "Third right, fourth left," answered the assistant promptly,
closing the door.
  "Smart fellow, that," observed Holmes as we walked away.
"He is, in my judgment. the fourth smartest man in London, and
for daring I am not sure that he has not a claim to be third. I
have known something of him before."
  "Evidently," said I, "Mr. Wilson's assistant counts for a
good deal in this mystery of the Red-headed League. I am sure
that you inquired your way merely in order that you might see
  "Not him."
  "What then?"
  "The knees of his trousers."
  "And what did you see?"
  "What I expected to see."
  "Why did you beat the pavement?"
  "My dear doctor, this is a time for observation, not for talk.
We are spies in an enemy's country. We know something of
Saxe-Coburg Square. Let us now explore the parts which lie
behind it."
  The road in which we found ourselves as we turned round the
corner from the retired Saxe-Coburg Square presented as great a
contrast to it as the front of a picture does to the back. It was one
of the main arteries which conveyed the traffic of the City to the
north and west. The roadway was blocked with the immense
stream of commerce flowing in a double tide inward and out-
ward, while the footpaths were black with the hurrying swarm of
pedestrians. It was difficult to realize as we looked at the line of
fine shops and stately business premises that they really abutted
on the other side upon the faded and stagnant square which we
had just quitted.
  "Let me see," said Holmes, standing at the corner and glanc-
ing along the line, "I should like just to remember the order of
the houses here. It is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowl-
edge of London. There is Mortimer's, the tobacconist, the little
newspaper shop, the Coburg branch of the City and Suburban
Bank, the Vegetarian Restaurant, and McFarlane's carriage-building
depot. That carries us right on to the other block. And now,
Doctor, we've done our work, so it's time we had some play. A
sandwich and a cup of coffee, and then off to violin-land, where
all is sweetness and delicacy and harmony, and there are no
red-headed clients to vex us with their conundrums."
  My friend was an enthusiastic musician, being himself not
only a very capable perfomer but a composer of no ordinary
merit. All the afternoon he sat in the stalls wrapped in the most
perfect happiness, gently waving his long, thin fingers in time to
the music, while his gently smiling face and his languid, dreamy
eyes were as unlike those of Holmes, the sleuth-hound, Holmes
the relentless, keen-witted, ready-handed criminal agent, as it was
possible to conceive. In his singular character the dual nature
alternately asserted itself, and his extreme exactness and astute-
ness represented, as I have often thought, the reaction against the
poetic and contemplative mood which occasionally predominated
in him. The swing of his nature took him from extreme languor
to devouring energy; and, as I knew well, he was never so truly
formidable as when, for days on end, he had been lounging in
his armchair amid his improvisations and his black-letter edi-
tions. Then it was that the lust of the chase would suddenly come
upon him, and that his brilliant reasoning power would rise to
the level of intuition, until those who were unacquainted with his
methods would look askance at him as on a man whose knowl-
edge was not that of other mortals. When I saw him that after-
noon so enwrapped in the music at St. James's Hall I felt that an
evil time might be coming upon those whom he had set himself
to hunt down.
  "You want to go home, no doubt, Doctor," he remarked as
we emerged.
  "Yes, it would be as well."
  "And I have some business to do which will take some hours.
This business at Coburg Square is serious."
  "Why serious?"
  "A considerable crime is in contemplation. I have every
reason to believe that we shall be in time to stop it. But to-day
being Saturday rather complicates matters. I shall want your help
  "At what time?"
  "Ten will be early enough."
  "I shall be at Baker Street at ten."
  "Very well. And, I say, Doctor, there may be some little
danger, so kindly put your army revolver in your pocket." He
waved his hand, turned on his heel, and disappeared in an instant
among the crowd.
  I trust that I am not more dense than my neighbours, but I was
always oppressed with a sense of my own stupidity in my
dealings with Sherlock Holmes. Here I had heard what he had
heard, I had seen what he had seen, and yet from his words it
was evident that he saw clearly not only what had happened but
what was about to happen, while to me the whole business was
still confused and grotesque. As I drove home to my house in
Kensington I thought over it all, from the extraordinary story of
the red-headed copier of the Encyclopedia down to the visit to
Saxe-Coburg Square, and the ominous words with which he had
parted from me. What was this nocturnal expedition, and why
should I go armed? Where were we going, and what were we to
do? I had the hint from Holmes that this smooth-faced pawn-
broker's assistant was a formidable man -- a man who might play
a deep game. I tried to puzzle it out, but gave it up in despair
and set the matter aside until night should bring an explanation.
  It was a quarter-past nine when I started from home and made
my way across the Park, and so through Oxford Street to Baker
Street. Two hansoms were standing at the door, and as I entered
the passage I heard the sound of voices from above. On entering
his room I found Holmes in animated conversation with two
men, one of whom I recognized as Peter Jones, the official
police agent, while the other was a long, thin, sad-faced man,
with a very shiny hat and oppressively respectable frock-coat.
  "Ha! Our party is complete," said Holmes, buttoning up his
peajacket and taking his heavy hunting crop from the rack.
"Watson, I think you know Mr. Jones, of Scotland Yard? Let me
introduce you to Mr. Merryweather, who is to be our companion
in to-night's adventure."
  "We're hunting in couples again, Doctor, you see," said
Jones in his consequential way. "Our friend here is a wonderful
man for starting a chase. All he wants is an old dog to help him
to do the running down."
  "I hope a wild goose may not prove to be the end of our
chase," observed Mr. Merryweather gloomily.
  "You may place considerable confidence in Mr. Holmes,
sir," said the police agent loftily. "He has his own little meth-
ods, which are, if he won't mind my saying so, just a little too
theoretical and fantastic, but he has the makings of a detective in
him. It is not too much to say that once or twice, as in that
business of the Sholto murder and the Agra treasure, he has been
more nearly correct than the official force."
  "Oh, if you say so, Mr. Jones, it is all right," said the
stranger with deference. "Still, I confess that I miss my rubber.
It is the first Saturday night for seven-and-twenty years that I
have not had my rubber."
  "I think you will find," said Sherlock Holmes, "that you will
play for a higher stake to-night than you have ever done yet, and
that the play will be more exciting. For you, Mr. Merryweather,
the stake will be some 30,000 pounds; and for you, Jones, it will be the
man upon whom you wish to lay your hands."
  "John Clay, the murderer, thief, smasher, and forger. He's a
young man, Mr. Merryweather, but he is at the head of his
profession, and I would rather have my bracelets on him than on
any criminal in London. He's a remarkable man, is young John
Clay. His grandfather was a royal duke, and he himself has been
to Eton and Oxford. His brain is as his fingers, and
though we meet signs of him at every turn, we never know
where to find the man himself. He'll crack a crib in Scotland one
week, and be raising money to build an orphanage in Cornwall
the next. I've been on his track for years and have never set eyes
on him yet."
  "I hope that I may have the pleasure of introducing you
to-night. I've had one or two little turns also with Mr. John
Clay, and I agree with you that he is at the head of his profes-
sion. It is past ten, however, and quite time that we started. If
you two will take the first hansom, Watson and I will follow
in the second."
  Sherlock Holmes was not very communicative during the long
drive and lay back in the cab humming the tunes which he had
heard in the afternoon. We rattled through an endless labyrinth
of gas-lit streets until we emerged into Farrington Street.
  "We are close there now," my friend remarked. "This fellow
Merryweather is a bank director, and personally interested in the
matter. I thought it as well to have Jones with us also. He is not
a bad fellow, though an absolute imbecile in his profession. He
has one positive virtue. He is as brave as a bulldog and as
tenacious as a lobster if he gets his claws upon anyone. Here we
are, and they are waiting for us."
  We had reached the same crowded thoroughfare in which we
had found ourselves in the morning. Our cabs were dismissed,
and, following the guidance of Mr. Merryweather, we passed
down a narrow passage and through a side door, which he
opened for us. Within there was a small corridor, which ended in
a very massive iron gate. This also was opened, and led down a
flight of winding stone steps, which terminated at another formi-
dable gate. Mr. Merryweather stopped to light a lantern, and
then conducted us down a dark, earth-smelling passage, and so,
after opening a third door, into a huge vault or cellar, which was
piled all round with crates and massive boxes.
  "You are not very vulnerable from above," Holmes remarked
as he held up the lantern and gazed about him.
  "Nor from below," said Mr. Merryweather, striking his stick
upon the flags which lined the floor. "Why, dear me, it sounds
quite hollow!" he remarked, looking up in surprise.
  "I must really ask you to be a little more quiet!" said Holmes
severely. "You have already imperilled the whole success of our
expedition. Might I beg that you would have the goodness to sit
down upon one of those boxes, and not to interfere?"
  The solemn Mr. Merryweather perched himself upon a crate,
with a very injured expression upon his face, while Holmes fell
upon his knees upon the floor and, with the lantern and a
magnifying lens, began to exarnine minutely the cracks between
the stones. A few seconds sufficed to satisfy him, for he sprang
to his feet again and put his glass in his pocket.
  "We have at least an hour before us," he remarked, "for they
can hardly take any steps until the good pawnbroker is safely in
bed. Then they will not lose a minute, for the sooner they do
their work the longer time they will have for their escape. We
are at present, Doctor -- as no doubt you have divined -- in the
cellar of the City branch of one of the principal London banks.
Mr. Merryweather is the chairman of directors, and he will
explain to you that there are reasons why the more daring
criminals of London should take a considerable interest in this
cellar at present."
  "It is our French gold," whispered the director. "We have
had several warnings that an attempt might be made upon it."
  "Your French gold?"
  "Yes. We had occasion some months ago to strengthen our
resources and borrowed for that purpose 30,000 napoleons from
the Bank of France. It has become known that we have never
had occasion to unpack the money, and that it is still lying in our
cellar. The crate upon which I sit contains 2,000 napoleons
packed between layers of lead foil. Our reserve of bullion is
much larger at present than is usually kept in a single branch
office, and the directors have had misgivings upon the subject."
  "Which were very well justified," observed Holmes. "And
now it is time that we arranged our little plans. I expect that
within an hour matters will come to a head. In the meantime
Mr. Merryweather, we must put the screen over that dark lantern."
  "And sit in the dark?"
  "I am afraid so. I had brought a pack of cards in my pocket,
and I thought that, as we were a partie carree, you might have
your rubber after all. But I see that the enemy's preparations
have gone so far that we cannot risk the presence of a light. And,
first of all, we must choose our positions. These are daring men,
and though we shall take them at a disadvantage, they may do us
some harm unless we are careful. I shall stand behind this crate,
and do you conceal yourselves behind those. Then, when I flash
a light upon them, close in swiftly. If they fire, Watson, have no
compunction about shooting them down."
  I placed my revolver, cocked, upon the top of the wooden
case behind which I crouched. Holmes shot the slide across the
front of his lantern and left us in pitch darkness -- such an
absolute darkness as I have never before experienced. The smell
of hot metal remained to assure us that the light was still there,
ready to flash out at a moment's notice. To me, with my nerves
worked up to a pitch of expectancy, there was something de-
pressing and subduing in the sudden gloom, and in the cold dank
air of the vault.
  "They have but one retreat," whispered Holmes. "That is
back through the house into Saxe-Coburg Square. I hope that
you have done what I asked you, Jones?"
  "l have an inspector and two officers waiting at the front
  "Then we have stopped all the holes. And now we must be
silent and wait."
  What a time it seemed! From comparing notes afterwards it
was but an hour and a quarter, yet it appeared to me that the
night must have almost gone. and the dawn be breaking above
us. My limbs were weary and stiff, for I feared to change my
position; yet my nerves were worked up to the highest pitch of
tension, and my hearing was so acute that I could not only hear
the gentle breathing of my companions, but I could distinguish
the deeper, heavier in-breath of the bulky Jones from the thin,
sighing note of the bank director. From my position I could look
over the case in the direction of the floor. Suddenly my eyes
caught the glint of a light.
  At first it was but a lurid spark upon the stone pavement. Then
it lengthened out until it became a yellow line, and then, without
any warning or sound, a gash seemed to open and a hand
appeared; a white, almost womanly hand, which felt about in the
centre of the little area of light. For a minute or more the hand,
with its writhing fingers, protruded out of the floor. Then it was
withdrawn as suddenly as it appeared, and all was dark again
save the single lurid spark which marked a chink between the
  Its disappearance, however, was but momentary. With a rend-
ing, tearing sound, one of the broad. white stones turned over
upon its side and left a square, gaping hole, through which
streamed the light of a lantern. Over the edge there peeped a
clean-cut, boyish face, which looked keenly about it, and then.
with a hand on either side of the aperture, drew itself shoulder-
high and waist-high, until one knee rested upon the edge. In
another instant he stood at the side of the hole and was hauling
after him a companion, lithe and small like himself, with a pale
face and a shock of very red hair.
  "It's all clear," he whispered. "Have you the chisel and the
bags? Great Scott! Jump, Archie, jump, and I'll swing for it!"
  Sherlock Holmes had sprung out and seized the intruder by the
collar. The other dived down the hole, and I heard the sound of
rending cloth as Jones clutched at his skirts. The light flashed
upon the barrel of a revolver, but Holmes's hunting crop came
down on the man's wrist, and the pistol clinked upon the stone
  "It's no use, John Clay," said Holmes blandly. "You have
no chance at all."
  "So I see," the other answered with the utmost coolness. "I
fancy that my pal is all right, though I see you have got his
  "There are three men waiting for him at the door," said
  "Oh, indeed! You seem to have done the thing very com-
pletely. I must compliment you."
  "And I you," Holmes answered. "Your red-headed idea was
very new and effective."
  "You'll see your pal again presently," said Jones. "He's
quicker at climbing down holes than I am. Just hold out while I
fix the derbies."
  "I beg that you will not touch me with your filthy hands,"
remarked our prisoner as the handcuffs clattered upon his wrists.
"You may not be aware that I have royal blood in my veins.
Have the goodness, also, when you address me always to say
'sir' and 'please.' "
  "All right," said Jones with a stare and a snigger. "Well,
would you please, sir, march upstairs, where we can get a cab to
carry your Highness to the police-station?"
  "That is better," said John Clay serenely. He made a sweep-
ing bow to the three of us and walked quietly off in the custody
of the detective.
  "Really, Mr. Holmes," said Mr. Merryweather as we fol-
lowed them from the cellar, "I do not know how the bank can
thank you or repay you. There is no doubt that you have detected
and defeated in the most complete manner one of the most
determined attempts at bank robbery that have ever come within
my experience."
  "I have had one or two little scores of my own to settle with
Mr. John Clay," said Holmes. "I have been at some small
expense over this matter, which I shall expect the bank to
refund, but beyond that I am amply repaid by having had an
experience which is in many ways unique, and by hearing the
very remarkable narrative of the Red-headed League."

  "You see, Watson," he explained in the early hours of the
morning as we sat over a glass of whisky and soda in Baker
Street, "it was perfectly obvious from the first that the only
possible object of this rather fantastic business of the advertise-
ment of the League, and the copying of the Encyclopedia, must
be to get this not over-bright pawnbroker out of the way for a
number of hours every day. It was a curious way of managing it,
but, really, it would be difficult to suggest a better. The method
was no doubt suggested to Clay's ingenious mind by the colour
of his accomplice's hair. The 4 pounds a week was a lure which must
draw him, and what was it to them, who were playing for
thousands? They put in the advertisement, one rogue has the
temporary office, the other rogue incites the man to apply for it.
and together they manage to secure his absence every morning in
the week. From the time that I heard of the assistant having
come for half wages, it was obvious to me that he had some
strong motive for securing the situation."
  "But how could you guess what the motive was?"
  "Had there been women in the house, I should have suspected
a mere vulgar intrigue. That, however, was out of the question.
The man's business was a small one, and there was nothing in
his house which could account for such elaborate preparations,
and such an expenditure as they were at. It must, then, be
something out of the house. What could it be? I thought of the
assistant's fondness for photography, and his trick of vanishing
into the cellar. The cellar! There was the end of this tangled
clue. Then I made inquiries as to this mysterious assistant and
found that I had to deal with one of the coolest and most daring
criminals in London. He was doing something in the cellar --
something which took many hours a day for months on end.
What could it be, once more? I could think of nothing save that
he was running a tunnel to some other building.
  "So far I had got when we went to visit the scene of action. I
surprised you by beating upon the pavement with my stick. I was
ascertaining whether the cellar stretched out in front or behind. It
was not in front. Then I rang the bell, and, as I hoped, the
assistant answered it. We have had some skirmishes, but we had
never set eyes upon each other before. I hardly looked at his
face. His knees were what I wished to see. You must yourself
have remarked how worn, wrinkled, and stained they were.
They spoke of those hours of burrowing. The only remaining
point was what they were burrowing for. I walked round the
corner, saw the City and Suburban Bank abutted on our friend's
premises, and felt that I had solved my problem. When you
drove home after the concert I called upon Scotland Yard and
upon the chairman of the bank directors, with the result that you
have seen."
  "And how could you tell that they would make their attempt
to-night?" I asked.
  "Well, when they closed their League offices that was a sign
that they cared no longer about Mr. Jabez Wilson's presence -- in
other words, that they had completed their tunnel. But it was
essential that they should use it soon, as it might be discovered,
or the bullion might be removed. Saturday would suit them
better than any other day, as it would give them two days for
their escape. For all these reasons I expected them to come
  "You reasoned it out beautifully," I exclaimed in unfeigned
admiration "It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings true."
  "It saved me from ennui," he answered, yawning. "Alas! I
already feel it closing in upon me. My life is spent in one long
effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little
problems help me to do so."
  "And you are a benefactor of the race," said I.
  He shrugged his shoulders. "Well, perhaps, after all, it is of
some little use," he remarked. " 'L'homme c'est rien -- l' oeuvre
c'est tout,' as Gustave Flaubert wrote to George Sand."

                    A Case of Identity

  "My dear fellow." said Sherlock Holmes as we sat on either
side of the fire in his lodgings at Baker Street, "life is infinitely
stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We
would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere
commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window
hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the
roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the
strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the won-
derful chains of events, working through generation, and leading
to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its
conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprof-
itable. "
  "And yet I am not convinced of it," I answered. "The cases
which come to light in the papers are, as a rule, bald enough,
and vulgar enough. We have in our police reports realism pushed
to its extreme limits, and yet the result is, it must be confessed,
neither fascinating nor artistic."
  "A certain selection and discretion must be used in producing
a realistic effect," remarked Holmes. "This is wanting in the
police report, where more stress is laid, perhaps, upon the
platitudes of the magistrate than upon the details, which to an
observer contain the vital essence of the whole matter. Depend
upon it, there is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace."
  I smiled and shook my head. "I can quite understand your
thinking so." I said. "Of course, in your position of unofficial
adviser and helper to everybody who is absolutely puzzled,
throughout three continents, you are brought in contact with all
that is strange and bizarre. But here" -- I picked up the morning
paper from the ground -- "let us put it to a practical test. Here is
the first heading upon which I come. 'A husband's cruelty to his
wife.' There is half a column of print, but I know without
reading it that it is all perfectly familiar to me. There is. of
course, the other woman, the drink, the push, the blow, the
bruise, the sympathetic sister or landlady. The crudest of writers
could invent nothing more crude."
  "Indeed, your example is an unfortunate one for your argu-
ment," said Holmes, taking the paper and glancing his eye down
it. "This is the Dundas separation case, and, as it happens, I was
engaged in clearing up some small points in connection with it.
The husband was a teetotaler, there was no other woman, and
the conduct complained of was that he had drifted into the habit
of winding up every meal by taking out his false teeth and
hurling them at his wife, which, you will allow, is not an action
likely to occur to the imagination of the average story-teller.
Take a pinch of snuff, Doctor, and acknowledge that I have
scored over you in your example."
  He held out his snuffbox of old gold, with a great amethyst in
the centre of the lid. Its splendour was in such contrast to his
homely ways and simple life that I could not help commenting
upon it.
  "Ah," said he, "I forgot that I had not seen you for some
weeks. It is a little souvenir from the King of Bohemia in return
for my assistance in the case of the Irene Adler papers."
  "And the ring?" I asked, glancing at a remarkable brilliant
which sparkled upon his finger.
  "It was from the reigning family of Holland, though the
matter in which I served them was of such delicacy that I cannot
confide it even to you, who have been good enough to chronicle
one or two of my little problems."
  "And have you any on hand just now?" I asked with interest.
  "Some ten or twelve, but none which present any feature of
interest. They are important, you understand, without being
interesting. Indeed, I have found that it is usually in unimportant
matters that there is a field for the observation, and for the quick
analysis of cause and effect which gives the charm to an investi-
gation. The larger crimes are apt to be the simpler, for the
bigger the crime thc more obvious, as a rule, is the motive. In
these cases, save for one rather intricate matter which has been
referred to me from Marseilles, there is nothing which presents
any features of interest. It is possible, however, that I may have
something better before very many minutes are over, for this is
one of my clients, or I am much mistaken."
  He had risen from his chair and was standing between the
parted blinds gazing down into the dull neutral-tinted London
street. Looking over his shoulder, I saw that on the pavement
opposite there stood a large woman with a heavy fur boa round
her neck, and a large curling red feather in a broad-brimmed hat
which was tilted in a coquettish Duchess of Devonshire fashion
over her ear. From under this great panoply she peeped up in a
nervous, hesitating fashion at our windows, while her body
oscillated backward and forward, and her fingers fidgeted with
her glove buttons. Suddenly, with a plunge, as of the swimmer
who leaves the bank, she hurried across the road, and we heard
the sharp clang of the bell.
  "I have seen those symptoms before," said Holmes, throwing
his cigarette into the fire. "Oscillation upon the pavement al-
ways means an affaire de coeur. She would like advice, but is
not sure that the matter is not too delicate for communication.
And yet even here we may discriminate. When a woman has
been seriously wronged by a man she no longer oscillates, and
the usual symptom is a broken bell wire. Here we may take it
that there is a love matter, but that the maiden is not so much
angry as perplexed, or grieved. But here she comes in person to
resolve our doubts."
  As he spoke there was a tap at the door, and the boy in buttons.
entered to announce Miss Mary Sutherland, while the lady her-
self loomed behind his small black figure like a full-sailed
merchant-man behind a tiny pilot boat. Sherlock Holmes wel-
comed her with the easy courtesy for which he was remarkable,
and, having closed the door and bowed her into an armchair, he
looked her over in the minute and yet abstracted fashion which
was peculiar to him.
  "Do you not find," he said, "that with your short sight it is a
little trying to do so much typewriting?"
  "I did at first," she answered, "but now I know where the
letters are without looking." Then, suddenly realizing the full
purport of his words, she gave a violent start and looked up, with
fear and astonishment upon her broad, good-humoured face.
"You've heard about me, Mr. Holmes," she cried, "else how
could you know all that?"
  "Never mind," said Holmes, laughing; "it is my business to
know things. Perhaps I have trained myself to see what others
overlook. If not, why should you come to consult me?"
  "I came to you, sir, because I heard of you from Mrs.
Etherege, whose husband you found so easy when the police and
everyone had given him up for dead. Oh, Mr. Holmes, I wish
you would do as much for me. I'm not rich, but still I have a
hundred a year in my own right, besides the little that I make by
the machine, and I would give it all to know what has become of
Mr. Hosmer Angel."
  "Why did you come away to consult me in such a hurry?"
asked Sherlock Holmes, with his finger-tips together and his
eyes to the ceiling.
  Again a startled look came over the somewhat vacuous face of
Miss Mary Sutherland. "Yes, I did bang out of the house," she
said, "for it made me angry to see the easy way in which Mr.
Windibank -- that is, my father -- took it all. He would not go to
the police, and he would not go to you, and so at last, as he
would do nothing and kept on saying that there was no harm
done, it made me mad, and I just on with my things and came
right away to you."
  "Your father," said Holmes, "your stepfather, surely, since
the name is different."
  "Yes, my stepfather. I call him father, though it sounds
funny, too, for he is only five years and two months older than
myself. "
  "And your mother is alive?"
  "Oh, yes, mother is alive and well. I wasn't best pleased, Mr.
Holmes, when she married again so soon after father's death,
and a man who was nearly fifteen years younger than herself.
Father was a plumber in the Tottenham Court Road, and he left a
tidy business behind him, which mother carried on with Mr.
Hardy, the foreman; but when Mr. Windibank came he made her
sell the business, for he was very superior, being a traveller in
wines. They got 4700 pounds for the goodwill and interest, which
wasn't near as much as father could have got if he had been
  I had expected to see Sherlock Holmes impatient under this
rambling and inconsequential narrative, but, on the contrary he
had listened with the greatest concentration of attention.
  "Your own little income," he asked, "does it come out of the
  "Oh, no, sir. It is quite separate and was left me by my uncle
Ned in Auckland. It is in New Zealand stock, paying 4 1/2 per
cent. Two thousand five hundred pounds was the amount, but I
can only touch the interest."
  "You interest me extremely," said Holmes. "And since you
draw so large a sum as a hundred a year, with what you earn into
the bargain, you no doubt travel a little and indulge yourself in
every way. I believe that a single lady can get on very nicely
upon an income of about 60 pounds."
  "I could do with much less than that, Mr. Holmes, but you
understand that as long as I live at home I don't wish to be a
burden to them, and so they have the use of the money just while
I am staying with them. Of course, that is only just for the time.
Mr. Windibank draws my interest every quarter and pays it over
to mother, and I find that I can do pretty well with what I earn at
typewriting. It brings me twopence a sheet, and I can often do
from fifteen to twenty sheets in a-day."
  "You have made your position very clear to me," said Holmes.
"This is my friend, Dr. Watson, before whom you can speak as
freely as before myself. Kindly tell us now all about your
connection with Mr. Hosmer Angel."
  A flush stole over Miss Sutherland's face, and she picked
nervously at the fringe of her jacket. "I met him first at the
gasfitters' ball," she said. "They used to send father tickets
when he was alive, and then afterwards they remembered us, and
sent them to mother. Mr. Windibank did not wish us to go. He
never did wish us to go anywhere. He would get quite mad if I
wanted so much as to join a Sunday-school treat. But this time I
was set on going, and I would go; for what right had he to
prevent? He said the folk were not fit for us to know, when all
father's friends were to be there. And he said that I had nothing
fit to wear, when I had my purple plush that I had never so much
as taken out of the drawer. At last, when nothing else would do,
he went off to France upon the business of the firm, but we
went, mother and I, with Mr. Hardy, who used to be our
foreman, and it was there I met Mr. Hosmer Angel."
  "I suppose," said Holmes, "that when Mr. Windibank came
back from France he was very annoyed at your having gone to
the ball."
  "Oh, well, he was very good about it. He laughed, I remem-
ber, and shrugged his shoulders, and said there was no use
denying anything to a woman, for she would have her way."
  "I see. Then at the gasfitters' ball you met, as I understand, a
gentleman called Mr. Hosmer Angel."
  "Yes, sir. I met him that night, and he called next day to ask
if we had got home all safe, and after that we met him -- that is to
say, Mr. Holmes, I met him twice for walks, but after that father
came back again, and Mr. Hosmer Angel could not come to the
house any more."
  "Well, you know father didn't like anything of the sort. He
wouldn't have any visitors if he could help it, and he used to say
that a woman should be happy in her own family circle. But
then, as I used to say to mother, a woman wants her own circle
to begin with, and I had not got mine yet."
  "But how about Mr. Hosmer Angel? Did he make no attempt
to see you?"
  "Well, father was going off to France again in a week, and
Hosmer wrote and said that it would be safer and better not to
see each other until he had gone. We could write in the mean-
time, and he used to write every day. I took the letters in in the
morning, so there was no need for father to know."
  "Were you engaged to the gentleman at this time?"
  "Oh, yes, Mr. Holmes. We were engaged after the first walk
that we took. Hosmer -- Mr. Angel -- was a cashier in an office in
Leadenhall Street -- and --"
  "What office?"
  "That's the worst of it, Mr. Holmes, I don't know."
  "Where did he live, then?"
  "He slept on the premises."
  "And you don't know his address?''
  "No -- except that it was Leadenhall Street."
  "Where did you address your letters, then?"
  "To the Leadenhall Street Post-Office, to be left till called
for. He said that if they were sent to the office he would be
chaffed by all the other clerks about having letters from a lady,
so I offered to typewrite them, like he did his, but he wouldn't
have that, for he said that when I wrote them they seemed to
come from me, but when they were typewritten he always felt
that the machine had come between us. That will just show you
how fond he was of me, Mr. Holmes, and the little things that he
would think of."
  "It was most suggestive," said Holmes. "It has long been an
axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most impor-
tant. Can you remember any other little things about Mr. Hosmer
  "He was a very shy man, Mr. Holmes. He would rather walk
with me in the evening than in the daylight, for he said that he
hated to be conspicuous. Very retiring and gentlemanly he was.
Even his voice was gentle. He'd had the quinsy and swollen
glands when he was young, he told me, and it had left him with
a weak throat, and a hesitating, whispering fashion of speech.
He was always well dressed, very neat and plain, but his eyes
were weak, just as mine are, and he wore tinted glasses against
the glare."
  "Well, and what happened when Mr. Windibank, your stepfa-
ther, returned to France?"
  "Mr. Hosmer Angel came to the house again and proposed
that we should marry before father came back. He was in
dreadful earnest and made me swear, with my hands on the
Testament, that whatever happened I would always be true to
him. Mother said he was quite right to make me swear, and that
it was a sign of his passion. Mother was all in his favour from
the first and was even fonder of him than I was. Then, when
they talked of marrying within the week, I began to ask about
father; but they both said never to mind about father, but just to
tell him afterwards, and mother said she would make it all right
with him. I didn't quite like that, Mr. Holmes. It seemed funny
that I should ask his leave, as he was only a few years older than
me; but I didn't want to do anything on the sly, so l wrote to
father at Bordeaux, where the company has its French offices,
but the letter came back to me on the very morning of the
  "It missed him, then?"
  "Yes, sir; for he had started to England just before it arrived."
  "Ha! that was unfortunate. Your wedding was arranged, then,
for the Friday. Was it to be in church?"
  "Yes, sir, but very quietly. It was to be at St. Saviour's, near
King's Cross, and we were to have breakfast afterwards at the
St. Pancras Hotel. Hosmer came for us in a hansom, but as there
were two of us he put us both into it and stepped himself into a
four-wheeler, which happened to be the only other cab in the
street. We got to the church first, and when the four-wheeler
drove up we waited for him to step out, but he never did, and
when the cabman got down from the box and looked there was
no one there! The cabman said that he couid not imagine what
had become of him, for he had seen him get in with his own
eyes. That was last Friday, Mr. Holmes, and I have never seen
or heard anything since then to throw any light upon what
became of him."
  "It seems to me that you have been very shamefully treated,"
said Holmes.
  "Oh, no, sir! He was too good and kind to leave me so. Why,
all the morning he was saying to me that, whatever happened, I
was to be true; and that even if something quite unforeseen
occurred to separate us, I was always to remember that I was
pledged to him, and that he would claim his pledge sooner or
later. It seemed strange talk for a wedding-morning, but what
has happened since gives a meaning to it."
  "Most certainly it does. Your own opinion is, then, that some
unforeseen catastrophe has occurred to him?"
  "Yes, sir. I believe that he foresaw some danger, or else he
would not have talked so. And then I think that what he foresaw
  "But you have no notion as to what it could have been?"
  "One more question. How did your mother take the matter?"
  "She was angry, and said that I was never to speak of the
matter again."
  "And your father? Did you tell him?"
  "Yes; and he seemed to think, with me, that something had
happened, and that I should hear of Hosmer again. As he said,
what interest could anyone have in bringing me to the doors of
the church, and then leaving me? Now, if he had borrowed my
money, or if he had married me and got my money settled on
him, there might be some reason, but Hosmer was very indepen-
dent about money and never would look at a shilling of mine.
And yet, what could have happened? And why could he not
write? Oh, it drives me half-mad to think of it, and I can't sleep
a wink at night." She pulled a little handkerchief out of her muff
and began to sob heavily into it.
  "I shall glance into the case for you," said Holmes, rising,
"and I have no doubt that we shall reach some definite result.
Let the weight of the matter rest upon me now, and do not let
your mind dwell upon it further. Above all, try to let Mr.
Hosmer Angel vanish from your memory, as he has done from
your life."
  "Then you don't think I'll see him again?"
  "l fear not."
  "Then what has happened to him?"
  "You will leave that question in my hands. I should like an
accurate description of him and any letters of his which you can
  "I advertised for him in last Saturday's Chronicle," said she.
"Here is the slip and here are four letters from him."
  "Thank you. And your address?"
  "No. 31 Lyon Place, Camberwell."
  "Mr. Angel's address you never had, I understand. Where is
your father's place of business?"
  "He travels for Westhouse & Marbank, the great claret im-
porters of Fenchurch Street."
  "Thank you. You have made your statement very clearly.
You will leave the papers here, and remember the advice which I
have given you. Let the whole incident be a sealed book, and do
not allow it to affect your life."
  "You are very kind, Mr. Holmes, but I cannot do that. I shall
be true to Hosmer. He shall find me ready when he comes
  For all the preposterous hat and the vacuous face, there was
something noble in the simple faith of our visitor which com-
pelled our respect. She laid her little bundle of papers upon the
table and went her way, with a promise to come again whenever
she might be summoned.
  Sherlock Holmes sat silent for a few minutes with his finger-
tips still pressed together, his legs stretched out in front of him,
and his gaze directed upward to the ceiling. Then he took down
from the rack the old and oily clay pipe, which was to him as a
counsellor, and, having lit it, he leaned back in his chair, with
the thick blue cloud-wreaths spinning up from him, and a look of
infinite languor in his face.
  "Quite an interesting study, that maiden," he observed. "I
found her more interesting than her little problem, which, by the
way, is rather a trite one. You will find parallel cases, if you
consult my index, in Andover in '77, and there was something of
the sort at The Hague last year. Old as is the idea, however,
there were one or two details which were new to me. But the
maiden herself was most instructive."
  "You appeared to read a good deal upon her which was quite
invisible to me," I remarked.
  "Not invisible but unnoticed, Watson. You did not know
where to look, and so you missed all that was important. I can
never bring you to realize the importance of sleeves, the sugges-
tiveness of thumb-nails, or the great issues that may hang from a
boot-lace. Now, what did you gather from that woman's appear-
ance? Describe it."
  "Well, she had a slate-coloured, broad-brimmed straw hat,
with a feather of a brickish red. Her jacket was black, with black
beads sewn upon it, and a fringe of little black jet ornaments.
Her dress was brown, rather darker than coffee colour, with a
little purple plush at the neck and sleeves. Her gloves were
grayish and were worn through at the right forefinger. Her boots
I didn't observe. She had small round, hanging gold earrings,
and a general air of being fairly well-to-do in a vulgar, comfort-
able, easy-going way."
  Sherlock Holmes clapped his hands softly together and chuckled.
  " 'Pon my word, Watson, you are coming along wonderfully.
You have really done very well indeed. It is true that you have
missed everything of importance, but you have hit upon the
method, and you have a quick eye for colour. Never trust to
general impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon
details. My first glance is always at a woman's sleeve. In a man
it is perhaps better first to take the knee of the trouser. As you
observe, this woman had plush upon her sleeves, which is a most
useful material for showing traces. The double line a little above
the wrist, where the typewritist presses against the table, was
beautifully defined. The sewing-machine, of the hand type, leaves
a similar mark, but only on the left arm, and on the side of it
farthest from the thumb, instead of being right across the broad-
est part, as this was. I then glanced at her face, and, observing
the dint of a pince-nez at either side of her nose, I ventured a
remark upon short sight and typewriting, which seemed to sur-
prise her."
  "It surprised me."
  "But, surely, it was obvious. I was then much surprised and
interested on glancing down to observe that, though the boots
which she was wearing were not unlike each other, they were
really odd ones; the one having a slightly decorated toe-cap, and
the other a plain one. One was buttoned only in the two lower
buttons out of five, and the other at the first, third, and fifth.
Now, when you see that a young lady, otherwise neatly dressed,
has come away from home with odd boots, half-buttoned, it is
no great deduction to say that she came away in a hurry."
  "And what else?" I asked, keenly interested, as I always was,
by my friend's incisive reasoning.
  "I noted, in passing, that she had written a note before leaving
home but after being fully dressed. You observed that her right
glove was torn at the forefinger, but you did not apparently see
that both glove and finger were stained with violet ink. She had
written in a hurry and dipped her pen too deep. It must have
been this morning, or the mark would not remain clear upon the
finger. All this is amusing, though rather elementary, but I must
go back to business, Watson. Would you mind reading me the
advertised description of Mr. Hosmer Angel?"
  I held the little printed slip to the light.

       "Missing [it said] on the morning of the fourteenth. a
     gentleman named Hosmer Angel. About five feet seven
     inches in height; strongly built, sallow complexion, black
     hair, a little bald in the centre, bushy, black side-whiskers
     and moustache; tinted glasses, slight infirmity of speech.
     Was dressed, when last seen, in black frock-coat faced with
     silk, black waistcoat, gold Albert chain, and gray Harris
     tweed trousers, with brown gaiters over elastic-sided boots.
     Known to have been employed in an office in Leadenhall
     Street. Anybody bringing --"

  "That will do," said Holmes. "As to the letters," he contin-
ued, glancing over them, "they are very commonplace. Abso-
lutely no clue in them to Mr. Angel, save that he quotes Balzac
once. There is one remarkable point, however, which will no
doubt strike you."
  "They are typewritten," I remarked.
  "Not only that, but the signature is typewritten. Look at the
neat little 'Hosmer Angel' at the bottom. There is a date, you
see, but no superscription except Leadenhall Street, which is
rather vague. The point about the signature is very suggestive -- in
fact, we may call it conclusive."
  "Of what?"
  "My dear fellow, is it possible you do not see how strongly it
bears upon the case?"
  "I cannot say that I do unless it were that he wished to be able
to deny his signature if an action for breach of promise were
  "No, that was not the point. However, I shall write two
letters, which should settle the matter. One is to a firm in the
City, the other is to the young lady's stepfather, Mr. Windibank,
asking him whether he could meet us here at six o'clock to-
morrow evening. It is just as well that we should do business
with the male relatives. And now, Doctor, we can do nothing
until the answers to those letters come, so we may put our little
problem upon the shelf for the interim."
  I had had so many reasons to believe in my friend's subtle
powers of reasoning and extraordinary energy in action that I felt
that he must have some solid grounds for the assured and easy
demeanour with which he treated the singular mystery which he
had been called upon to fathom. Once only had I known him to
fail, in the case of the King of Bohemia and of the Irene Adler
photograph; but when I looked back to the weird business of
'The Sign of Four', and the extraordinary circumstances con-
nected with 'A Study in Scarlet', I felt that it would be a strange
tangle indeed which he could not unravel.
  I left him then, still puffing at his black clay pipe, with the
conviction that when I came again on the next evening I would
find that he held in his hands all the clues which would lead up
to the identity of the disappearing bridegroom of Miss Mary
  A professional case of great gravity was engaging my own
attention at the time, and the whole of next day I was busy at the
bedside of the sufferer. It was not until close upon six o'clock
that I found myself free and was able to spring into a hansom
and drive to Baker Street, half afraid that I might be too late to
assist at the denouement of the little mystery. I found Sherlock
Holmes alone, however, half asleep, with his long, thin form
curled up in the recesses of his armchair. A formidable array of
bottles and test-tubes, with the pungent cleanly smell of hydro-
chloric acid, told me that he had spent his day in the chemical
work which was so dear to him.
  "Well, have you solved it?" I asked as I entered.
  "Yes. It was the bisulphate of baryta."
  "No, no, the mystery!" I cried.
  "Oh, that! I thought of the salt that I have been working upon.
There was never any mystery in the matter, though, as I said
yesterday, some of the details are of interest. The only drawback
is that there is no law, I fear, that can touch the scoundrel."
  "Who was he, then, and what was his object in deserting Miss
  The question was hardly out of my mouth, and Holmes had
not yet opened his lips to reply, when we heard a heavy footfall
in the passage and a tap at the door.
  "This is the girl's stepfather, Mr. James Windibank," said
Holmes. "He has written to me to say that he would be here at
six. Come in!"
  The man who entered was a sturdy, middle-sized fellow, some
thirty years of age, clean-shaven, and sallow-skinned, with a
bland, insinuating manner, and a pair of wonderfully sharp and
penetrating gray eyes. He shot a questioning glance at each of
us, placed his shiny top-hat upon the sideboard, and with a slight
bow sidled down into the nearest chair.
  "Good-evening, Mr. James Windibank," said Holmes. "I
think that this typewritten letter is from you, in which you made
an appointment with me for six o'clock?"
  "Yes, sir. I am afraid that I am a little late, but I am not quite
my own master, you know. I am sorry that Miss Sutherland has
troubled you about this little matter, for I think it is far better not
to wash linen of the sort in public. It was quite against my
wishes that she came, but she is a very excitable, impulsive girl,
as you may have noticed, and she is not easily controlled when
she has made up her mind on a point. Of course, I did not mind
you so much, as you are not connected with the official police,
but it is not pleasant to have a family misfortune like this noised
abroad. Besides, it is a useless expense, for how could you
possibly find this Hosmer Angel?"
  "On the contrary," said Holmes quietly; "I have every reason
to believe that I will succeed in discovering Mr. Hosmer Angel."
  Mr. Windibank gave a violent start and dropped his gloves. "I
am delighted to hear it," he said.
  "It is a curious thing," remarked Holmes, "that a typewriter
has really quite as much individuality as a man's handwriting.
Unless they are quite new, no two of them write exactly alike.
Some letters get more worn than others, and some wear only on
one side. Now, you remark in this note of yours, Mr. Windibank,
that in every case there is some little slurring over of the 'e,' and
a slight defect in the tail of the 'r.' There are fourteen other
characteristics, but those are the more obvious."
  "We do all our correspondence with this machine at the
office, and no doubt it is a little worn," our visitor answered.
glancing keenly at Holmes with his bright little eyes.
  "And now I will show you what is really a very interesting
study, Mr. Windibank," Holmes continued. "I think of writing
another little monograph some of these days on the typewriter
and its relation to crime. It is a subject to which I have devoted
some little attention. I have here four letters which purport to
come from the missing man. They are all typewritten. In each
case, not only are the 'e's' slurred and the 'r's' tailless, but you
will observe, if you care to use my magnifying lens, that the
fourteen other characteristics to which I have alluded are there as
  Mr. Windibank sprang out of his chair and picked up his hat.
"I cannot waste time over this sort of fantastic talk, Mr. Holmes,"
he said. "If you can catch the man, catch him, and let me know
when you have done it."
  "Certainly," said Holmes, stepping over and turning the key
in the door. "I let you know, then, that I have caught him!"
  "What! where?" shouted Mr. Windibank, turning white to his
lips and glancing about him like a rat in a trap.
  "Oh, it won't do -- really it won't," said Holmes suavely.
"There is no possible getting out of it, Mr. Windibank. It is
quite too transparent, and it was a very bad compliment when
you said that it was impossible for me to solve so simple a
question. That's right! Sit down and let us talk it over."
  Our visitor collapsed into a chair, with a ghastly face and a
glitter of moisture on his brow. "It -- it's not actionable," he
  "I am very much afraid that it is not. But between ourselves,
Windibank, it was as cruel and selfish and heartless a trick in a
petty way as ever came before me. Now, let me just run over the
course of events, and you will contradict me if I go wrong."
  The man sat huddled up in his chair, with his head sunk upon
his breast, like one who is utterly crushed. Holmes stuck his feet
up on the corner of the mantelpiece and, leaning back with his
hands in his pockets, began talking, rather to himself, as it
seemed, than to us.
  "The man married a woman very much older than himself for
her money," said he, "and he enjoyed the use of the money of
the daughter as long as she lived with them. It was a consider-
able sum, for people in their position, and the loss of it would
have made a serious difference. It was worth an effort to pre-
serve it. The daughter was of a good, amiable disposition, but
alfectionate and warm-hearted in her ways. so that it was evident
that with her fair personal advantages, and her little income, she
would not be allowed to remain single long. Now her marriage
would mean, of course, the loss of a hundred a year, so what
does her stepfather do to prevent it? He takes the obvious course
of keeping her at home and forbidding her to seek the company
of people of her own age. But soon he found that that would not
answer forever. She became restive, insisted upon her rights, and
finally announced her positive intention of going to a certain
ball. What does her clever stepfather do then? He conceives an
idea more creditable to his head than to his heart. With the
connivance and assistance of his wife he disguised himself,
covered those keen eyes with tinted glasses, masked the face
with a moustache and a pair of bushy whiskers, sunk that clear
voice into an insinuating whisper, and doubly secure on account
of the girl's short sight, he appears as Mr. Hosmer Angel, and
keeps off other lovers by making love himself."
  "It was only a joke at first," groaned our visitor. "We never
thought that she would have been so carried away."
  "Very likely not. However that may be, the young lady was
very decidedly carried away, and, having quite made up her
mind that her stepfather was in France, the suspicion of treach-
ery never for an instant entered her mind. She was flattered by
the gentleman's attentions, and the effect was increased by the
loudly expressed admiration of her mother. Then Mr. Angel
began to call, for it was obvious that the matter should be pushed
as far as it would go if a real effect were to be produced. There
were meetings, and an engagement, which would finally secure
the girl's affections from turning towards anyone else. But the
deception could not be kept up forever. These pretended jour-
neys to France were rather cumbrous. The thing to do was
clearly to bring the business to an end in such a dramatic manner
that it would leave a permanent impression upon the young
lady's mind and prevent her from looking upon any other suitor
for some time to come. Hence those vows of fidelity exacted
upon a Testament, and hence also the allusions to a possibility of
something happening on the very morning of the wedding. James
Windibank wished Miss Sutherland to be so bound to Hosmer
Angel, and so uncertain as to his fate, that for ten years to come,
at any rate, she would not listen to another man. As far as the
church door he brought her, and then, as he could go no farther,
he conveniently vanished away by the old trick of stepping in at
one door of a four-wheeler and out at the other. I think that was
the chain of events, Mr. Windibank!"
  Our visitor had recovered something of his assurance while
Holmes had been talking, and he rose from his chair now with a
cold sneer upon his pale face.
  "It may be so, or it may not. Mr. Holmes," said he. "but if
you are so very sharp you ought to be sharp enough to know that
it is you who are breaking the law now, and not me. I have done
nothing actionable from the first, but as long as you keep that
door locked you lay yourself open to an action for assault and
illegal constraint."
  "The law cannot, as you say, touch you," said Holmes,
unlocking and throwing open the door, "yet there never was a
man who deserved punishment more. If the young lady has a
brother or a friend, he ought to lay a whip across your shoulders.
By Jove!" he continued, flushing up at the sight of the bitter
sneer upon the man's face, "it is not part of my duties to my
client, but here's a hunting crop handy, and I think I shall just
treat myself to --" He took two swift steps to the whip, but
before he could grasp it there was a wild clatter of steps upon the
stairs, the heavy hall door banged, and from the window we
could see Mr. James Windibank running at the top of his speed
down the road.
  "There's a cold-blooded scoundrel!" said Holmes, laughing,
as he threw himself down into his chair once more. "That fellow
will rise from crime to crime until he does something very bad,
and ends on a gallows. The case has, in some respects, been not
entirely devoid of interest."
  "I cannot now entirely see all the steps of your reasoning," I
  "Well, of course it was obvious from the first that this Mr.
Hosmer Angel must have some strong object for his curious
conduct, and it was equally clear that the only man who really
profited by the incident, as far as we could see, was the step-
father. Then the fact that the two men were never together, but
that the one always appeared when the other was away, was
suggestive. So were the tinted spectacles and the curious voice,
which both hinted at a disguise, as did the bushy whiskers. My
suspicions were all confirmed by his peculiar action in typewrit-
ing his signature, which, of course, inferred that his handwriting
was so familiar to her that she would recognize even the smallest
sample of it. You see all these isolated facts, together with many
minor ones, all pointed in the same direction."
  "And how did you verify them?"
  "Having once spotted my man, it was easy to get corrobora-
tion. I knew the firm for which this man worked. Having taken
the printed description. I eliminated everything from it which
could be the result of a disguise -- the whiskers, the glasses, the
voice, and I sent it to the firm, with a request that they would
inform me whether it answered to the description of any of their
travellers. I had already noticed the peculiarities of the type-
writer, and I wrote to the man himself at his business address
asking him if he would come here. As I expected, his reply was
typewritten and revealed the same trivial but characteristic de-
fects. The same post brought me a letter from Westhouse &
Marbank, of Fenchurch Street, to say that the description tallied
in every respect with that of their employee, James Windibank.
Voila tout!"
  "And Miss Sutherland?"
  "If I tell her she will not believe me. You may remember the
old Persian saying, 'There is danger for him who taketh the tiger
cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from a
woman.' There is as much sense in Hafiz as in Horace, and as
much knowledge of the world."

             The Boscombe Valley Mystery

  We were seated at breakfast one morning, my wife and I,
when the maid brought in a telegram. It was from Sherlock
Holmes and ran in this way:

         Have you a couple of days to spare? Have just been wired
       for from the west of England in connection with Boscombe
       Valley tragedy. Shall be glad if you will come with me. Air
       and scenery perfect. Leave Paddington by the 11:15.

  "What do you say, dear?" said my wife, looking across at
me. "Will you go?"
  "I really don't know what to say. I have a fairly long list at
  "Oh, Anstruther would do your work for you. You have been
looking a little pale lately. I think that the change would do you
good, and you are always so interested in Mr. Sherlock Holmes's
  "I should be ungrateful if I were not, seeing what I gained
through one of them," I answered. "But if I am to go, I must
pack at once, for I have only half an hour."
  My experience of camp life in Afghanistan had at least had the
effect of making me a prompt and ready traveller. My wants
were few and simple, so that in less than the time stated I was in
a cab with my valise, rattling away to Paddington Station.
Sherlock Holmes was pacing up and down the platform, his tall,
gaunt figure made even gaunter and taller by his long gray
travelling-cloak and close-fitting cloth cap.
  "It is reaily very good of you to come, Watson," said he. "It
makes a considerable difference to me, having someone with me
on whom I can thoroughly rely. Local aid is always either
worthless or else biassed. If you will keep the two corner seats I
shall get the tickets."
  We had the carriage to ourselves save for an immense litter of
papers which Holmes had brought with him. Among these he
rummaged and read, with intervals of note-taking and of medita-
tion, until we were past Reading. Then he suddenly rolled them
all into a gigantic ball and tossed them up onto the rack.
  "Have you heard anything of the case?" he asked.
  "Not a word. I have not seen a paper for some days."
  "The London press has not had very full accounts. I have just
been looking through all the recent papers in order to master the
particulars. It seems, from what I gather, to be one of those
simple cases which are so extremely difficult."
  "That sounds a little paradoxical."
  "But it is profoundly true. Singularity is almost invariably a
clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the
more difficult it is to bring it home. In this case, however, they
have established a very serious case against the son of the
murdered man."
  "It is a murder, then?"
  "Well, it is conjectured to be so. I shall take nothing for
granted until I have the opportunity of looking personally into it.
I will explain the state of things to you, as far as I have been able
to understand it, in a very few words.
  "Boscombe Valley is a country district not very far from
Ross, in Herefordshire. The largest landed proprietor in that part
is a Mr. John Turner, who made his money in Australia and
returned some years ago to the old country. One of the farms
which he held, that of Hatherley, was let to Mr. Charles McCar-
thy, who was also an ex-Australian. The men had known each
other in the colonies, so that it was not unnatural that when they
came to settle down they should do so as near each other as
possible. Turner was apparently the richer man, so McCarthy
became his tenant but still remained, it seems, upon terms of
perfect equality, as they were frequently together. McCarthy had
one son, a lad of eighteen, and Turner had an only daughter of
the same age, but neither of them had wives living. They appear
to have avoided the society of the neighbouring English families
and to have led retired lives, though both the McCarthys were
fond of sport and were frequently seen at the race-meetings of
the neighbourhood. McCarthy kept two servants -- a man and a
girl. Turner had a considerable household, some half-dozen at
the least. That is as much as I have been able to gather about the
families. Now for the facts.
  "On June 3rd, that is, on Monday last, McCarthy left his
house at Hatherley about three in the afternoon and walked down
to the Boscombe Pool, which is a small lake formed by the
spreading out of the stream which runs down the Boscombe
Valley. He had been out with his serving-man in the morning at
Ross, and he had told the man that he must hurry, as he had an
appointment of importance to keep at three. From that appoint-
ment he never came back alive.
  "From Hatherley Farmhouse to the Boscombe Pool is a quar-
ter of a mile, and two people saw him as he passed over this
ground. One was an old woman, whose name is not mentioned,
and the other was William Crowder, a game-keeper in the em-
ploy of Mr. Turner. Both these witnesses depose that Mr. McCarthy
was walking alone. The game-keeper adds that within a few
minutes of his seeing Mr. McCarthy pass he had seen his son,
Mr. James McCarthy, going the same way with a gun under
his arm. To the best of his belief, the father was actually in sight
at the time, and the son was following him. He thought no more
of the matter until he heard in the evening of the tragedy that had
  "The two McCarthys were seen after the time when William
Crowder, the game-keeper, lost sight of them. The Boscombe
Pool is thickly wooded round, with just a fringe of grass and of
reeds round the edge. A girl of fourteen, Patience Moran, who is
the daughter of the lodge-keeper of the Boscombe Valley estate,
was in one of the woods picking flowers. She states that while
she was there she saw, at the border of the wood and close by
the lake, Mr. McCarthy and his son, and that they appeared to be
having a violent quarrel. She heard Mr. McCarthy the elder
using very strong language to his son, and she saw the latter
raise up his hand as if to strike his father. She was so frightened
by their violence that she ran away and told her mother when she
reached home that she had left the two McCarthys quarrelling
near Boscombe Pool, and that she was afraid that they were
going to fight. She had hardly said the words when young Mr.
McCarthy came running up to the lodge to say that he had found
his father dead in the wood, and to ask for the help of the
lodge-keeper. He was much excited, without either his gun or his
hat, and his right hand and sleeve were observed to be stained
with fresh blood. On following him they found the dead body
stretched out upon the grass beside the pool. The head had been
beaten in by repeated blows of some heavy and blunt weapon.
The injuries were such as might very well have been inflicted by
the butt-end of his son's gun, which was found lying on the grass
within a few paces of the body. Under these circumstances the
young man was instantly arrested, and a verdict of 'wilful mur-
der' having been returned at the inquest on Tuesday, he was on
Wednesday brought before the magistrates at Ross, who have
referred the case to the next Assizes. Those are the main facts of
the case as they came out before the coroner and the police-court."
  "I could hardly imagine a more damning case," I remarked.
"If ever circumstantial evidence pointed to a criminal it does so
  "Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing," answered
Holmes thoughtfully. "It may seem to point very straight to one
thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may
find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to some-
thing entirely different. It must be confessed, however, that the
case looks exceedingly grave against the young man, and it is
very possible that he is indeed the culprit. There are several
people in the neighbourhood, however, and among them Miss
Turner, the daughter of the neighbouring landowner, who be-
lieve in his innocence, and who have retained Lestrade, whom
you may recollect in connection with 'A Study in Scarlet', to
work out the case in his interest. Lestrade, being rather puzzled,
has referred the case to me, and hence it is that two middle-aged
gentlemen are flying westward at fifty miles an hour instead of
quietly digesting their breakfasts at home."
  "I am afraid," said I, "that the facts are so obvious that you
will find little credit to be gained out of this case."
  "There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact," he
answered, laughing. "Besides, we may chance to hit upon some
other obvious facts which may have been by no means obvious
to Mr. Lestrade. You know me too well to think that I am
boasting when I say that I shall either confirm or destroy his
theory by means which he is quite incapable of employing, or
even of understanding. To take the first example to hand, I very
clearly perceive that in your bedroom the window is upon the
right-hand side, and yet I question whether Mr. Lestrade would
have noted even so self-evident a thing as that."
  "How on earth --"
  "My dear fellow, I know you well. I know the military
neatness which characterizes you. You shave every morning, and
in this season you shave by the sunlight; but since your shaving
is less and less complete as we get farther back on the left side,
until it becomes positively slovenly as we get round the angle of
the jaw, it is surely very clear that that side is less illuminated
than the other. I could not imagine a man of your habits looking
at himself in an equal light and being satisfied with such a result.
I only quote this as a trivial example of observation and infer-
ence. Therein lies my metier, and it is just possible that it may
be of some service in the investigation which lies before us.
There are one or two minor points which were brought out in the
inquest, and which are worth considering."
  "What are they?"
  "It appears that his arrest did not take place at once, but after
the return to Hatherley Farm. On the inspector of constabulary
informing him that he was a prisoner, he remarked that he was
not surprised to hear it, and that it was no more than his deserts.
This observation of his had the natural effect of removing any
traces of doubt which might have remained in the minds of the
coroner's jury."
  "It was a confession," I ejaculated.
  "No, for it was followed by a protestation of innocence."
  "Coming on the top of such a damning series of events, it was
at least a most suspicious remark."
  "On the contrary," said Holmes, "it is the brightest rift
which I can at present see in the clouds. However innocent he
might be, he could not be such an absolute imbecile as not to see
that the circumstances were very black against him. Had he
appeared surprised at his own arrest, or feigned indignation at it,
I should have looked upon it as highly suspicious, because such
surprise or anger would not be natural under the circumstances,
and yet might appear to be the best policy to a scheming man.
His frank acceptance of the situation marks him as either an
innocent man, or else as a man of considerable self-restraint and
firmness. As to his remark about his deserts, it was also not
unnatural if you consider that he stood beside the dead body of
his father, and that there is no doubt that he had that very day so
far forgotten his filial duty as to bandy words with him, and
even, according to the little girl whose evidence is so important,
to raise his hand as if to strike him. The self-reproach and
contrition which are displayed in his remark appear to me to be
the signs of a healthy mind rather than of a guilty on."
  I shook my head. "Many men have been hanged on far
slighter evidence," I remarked.
  "So they have. And many men have been wrongfully hanged."
  "What is the young man's own account of the matter?"
  "It is, I am afraid, not very encouraging to his supporters,
though there are one or two points in it which are suggestive.
You will find it here, and may read it for yourself."
  He picked out from his bundle a copy of the local Herefordshire
paper, and having turned down the sheet he pointed out the
paragraph in which the unfortunate young man had given his
own statement of what had occurred. I settled myself down in
the corner of the carriage and read it very carefully. It ran in this

      Mr. James McCarthy, the only son of the deceased,
    was then called and gave evidence as follows: "I had been
    away from home for three days at Bristol, and had only just
    returned upon the morning of last Monday, the 3d. My
    father was absent from home at the time of my arrival, and I
    was informed by the maid that he had driven over to Ross
    with John Cobb, the groom. Shortly after my return I heard
    the wheels of his trap in the yard, and, looking out of my
    window, I saw him get out and walk rapidly out of the yard,
    though I was not aware in which direction he was going. I
    then took my gun and strolled out in the direction of the
    Boscombe Pool, with the intention of visiting the rabbit-
    warren which is upon the other side. On my way I saw
    William Crowder, the game-keeper, as he had stated in his
    evidence; but he is mistaken in thinking that I was following
    my father. I had no idea that he was in front of me. When
    about a hundred yards from the pool I heard a cry of
    'Cooee!' which was a usual signal between my father and
    myself. I then hurried forward, and found him standing by
    the pool. He appeared to be much surprised at seeing me
    and asked me rather roughly what I was doing there. A
    conversation ensued which led to high words and almost to
    blows, for my father was a man of a very violent temper.
    Seeing that his passion was becoming ungovernable, I left
    him and returned towards Hatherley Farm. I had not gone
    more than 150 yards, however, when I heard a hideous
    outcry behind me, which caused me to run back again.
    I found my father expiring upon the ground, with his head
    terribly injured. I dropped my gun and held him in my
    arms, but he almost instantly expired. I knelt beside him for
    some minutes, and then made my way to Mr. Turner's
    lodge-keeper, his house being the nearest, to ask for assis-
    tance. I saw no one near my father when I returned, and I
    have no idea how he came by his injuries. He was not a
    popular man, being somewhat cold and forbidding in his
    manners, but he had, as far as I know, no active enemies. I
    know nothing further of the matter."
  The Coroner: Did your father make any statement to you
before he died?
  Witness: He mumbled a few words, but I could only
catch some allusion to a rat.
  The Coroner: What did you understand by that?
  Witness: It conveyed no meaning to me. I thought that he
was delirious.
  The Coroner: What was the point upon which you and
your father had this final quarrel?
  Witness: I should prefer not to answer.
  The Coroner: I am afraid that I must press it.
  Witness: It is really impossible for me to tell you. I can
assure you that it has nothing to do with the sad tragedy
which followed.
  The Coroner: That is for the court to decide. I need not
point out to you that your refusal to answer will prejudice
your case considerably in any future proceedings which may
  Witness: I must still refuse.
  The Coroner: I understand that the cry of "Cooee" was a
common signal between you and your father?
  Witnesls: It was.
  The Coroner: How was it, then, that he uttered it before
he saw you, and before he even knew that you had returned
from Bristol?
  Witness (with considerable confusion): I do not know.
  A Juryman: Did you see nothing which aroused your
suspiclons when you returned on hearing the cry and found
your father fatally injured?
  Witness: Nothing definite.
  The Coroner: What do you mean?
  Witness: I was so disturbed and excited as I rushed out
into the open, that I could think of nothing except of my
father. Yet I have a vague impression that as I ran forward
something lay upon the ground to the left of me. It seemed
to me to be something gray in colour, a coat of some sort,
or a plaid perhaps. When I rose from my father I looked
round for it, but it was gone.
  "Do you mean that it disappeared before you went for
  "Yes, it was gone."
  "You cannot say what it was?"
  "No, I had a feeling something was there."
  "How far from the body?"
  "A dozen yards or so."
  "And how far from the edge of the wood?"
  "About the same."
  "Then if it was removed it was while you were within a
dozen yards of it?"
  "Yes, but with my back towards it."
  This concluded the examination of the witness.
  "I see," said I as I glanced down the column, "that the
coroner in his concluding remarks was rather severe upon young
McCarthy. He calls attention, and with reason, to the discrep-
ancy about his father having signalled to him before seeing him
also to his refusal to give details of his conversation with his
father, and his singular account of his father's dying words.
They are all, as he remarks, very much against the son."
  Holmes laughed softly to himself and stretched himself out
upon the cushioned seat. "Both you and the coroner have been
at some pains," said he, "to single out the very strongest points
in the young man's favour. Don't you see that you alternately
give him credit for having too much imaginition and too little?
Too little, if he could not invent a cause of quarrel which would
give him the sympathy of the jury; too much, if he evolved from
his own inner consciousness anything so outre as a dying refer-
ence to a rat, and the incident of the vanishing cloth. No, sir, I
shall approach this case from the point of view that what this
young man says is true, and we shall see whither that hypothesis
will lead us. And now here is my pocket Petrarch, and not
another word shall I say of this case until we are on the scene of
action. We lunch at Swindon, and I see that we shall be there in
twenty minutes."
  It was nearly four o'clock when we at last, after passing
through the beautiful Stroud Valley, and over the broad gleaming
Severn, found ourselves at the pretty little country-town of Ross.
A lean, ferret-like man, furtive and sly-looking, was waiting for
us upon the platform. In spite of the light brown dustcoat and
leather-leggings which he wore in deference to his rustic sur-
roundings, I had no difficulty in recognizing Lestrade, of Scot-
land Yard. With him we drove to the Hereford Arms where a
room had already been engaged for us.
  "I have ordered a carriage," said Lestrade as we sat over a
cup of tea. "I knew your energetic nature, and that you would
not be happy until you had been on the scene of the crime."
  "It was very nice and complimentary of you," Holmes an-
swered. "It is entirely a question of barometric pressure."
  Lestrade looked startled. "I do not quite follow," he said.
  "How is the glass? Twenty-nine, I see. No wind, and not a
cloud in the sky. I have a caseful of cigarettes here which need
smoking, and the sofa is very much superior to the usual country
hotel abomination. I do not think that it is probable that I shall
use the carriage to-night."
  Lestrade laughed indulgently. "Yau have, no doubt, already
formed your conclusions from the newspapers," he said. "The
case is as plain as a pikestaff, and the more one goes into it the
plainer it becomes. Still, of course, one can't refuse a lady, and
such a very positive one, too. She hai heard of you, and would
have your opinion, though I repeatedly told her that there was
nothing which you could do which I had not already done. Why,
bless my soul! here is her carriage at the door."
  He had hardly spoken before there rushed into the room one of
the most lovely young women that I have ever seen in my life.
Her violet eyes shining, her lips parted, a pink flush upon her
cheeks, all thought of her natural reserve lost in her overpower-
ing excitement and concern.
  "Oh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes!" she cried, glancing from one to
the other of us, and finally, with a woman's quick intuition,
fastening upon my companion, "I am so glad that you have
come. I have driven down to tell you so. I know that James
didn't do it. I know it, and I want you to start upon your work
knowing it, too. Never let yourself doubt upon that point. We
have known each other since we were little children, and I know
his faults as no one else does; but he is too tenderhearted to hurt
a fly. Such a charge is absurd to anyone who really knows him."
  "I hope we may clear him, Miss Turner," said Sherlock
Holmes. "You may rely upon my doing all that I can."
  "But you have read the evidence. You have formed some
conclusion? Do you not see some loophole, some flaw? Do you
not yourself think that he is innocent?"
  "I think that it is very probable."
  "There, now!" she cried, throwing back her head and looking
defiantly at Lestrade. "You hear! He gives me hopes."
  Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. "I am afraid that my col-
league has been a little quick in forming his conclusions," he
  "But he is right. Oh! I know that he is right. James never did
it. And about his quarrel with his father, I am sure that the
reason why he would not speak about it to the coroner was
because I was concerned in it."
  "In what way?" asked Holmes.
  "It is no time for me to hide anything. James and his father
had many disagreements about me. Mr. McCarthy was very
anxious that there should be a marriage between us. James and I
have always loved each other as brother and sister; but of course
he is young and has seen very little of life yet, and -- and -- well,
he naturally did not wish to do anything like that yet. So there
were quarrels, and this, I am sure, was one of them."
  "And your father?" asked Holmes. "Was he in favour of
such a union?"
  "No, he was averse to it also. No one but Mr. McCarthy was
in favour of it." A quick blush passed over her fresh young face
as Holmes shot one of his keen, questioning glances at her.
  "Thank you for this information," said he. "May I see your
father if I call to-morrow?"
  "I am afraid the doctor won't allow it."
  "The doctor?"
  "Yes, have you not heard? Poor father has never been strong
for years back, but this has broken him down completely. He has
taken to his bed, and Dr. Willows says that he is a wreck and
that his nlervous system is shattered. Mr. McCarthy was the only
man alive who had known dad in the old days in Victoria."
  "Ha! ln Victoria! That is important."
  "Yes, at the mines."
  "Quite so; at the gold-mines, where, as I understand, Mr.
Turner made his money."
  "Yes, certainly."
  "Thank you, Miss Turner. You have been of material assis-
tance to me."

"You will tell me if you have any news to-morrow. No doubt
you will go to the prison to see James. Oh, if you do, Mr.
Holmes, do tell him that I know him to be innocent."
  "I will, Miss Turner."
  "I must go home now, for dad is very ill, and he misses me so
if I leave him. Good-bye, and God help you in your undertak-
ing." She hurried from the room as impulsively as she had
entered, and we heard the wheels of her carriage rattle off down
the street.
  "I am ashamed of you, Holmes," said Lestrade with dignity
after a few minutes' silence. "Why should you raise up hopes
which you are bound to disappoint? I am not over-tender of
heart, but I call it cruel."
  "I think that I see my way to clearing James McCarthy," said
Holmes. "Have you an order to see him in prison?"
  "Yes, but only for you and me."
  "Then I shall reconsider my resolution about going out. We
have still time to take a train to Hereford and see him to-night?"
  "Then let us do so. Watson, I fear that you will find it very
slow, but I shall only be away a couple of hours."
  I walked down to the station with them, and then wandered
through the streets of the little town, finally returning to the
hotel, where I lay upon the sofa and tried to interest myself in a
yellow-backed novel. The puny plot of the story was so thin,
however, when compared to the deep mystery through which we
were groping, and I found my attention wander so continually
from the action to the fact, that I at last flung it across the room
and gave myself up entirely to a consideration of the events of
the day. Supposing that this unhappy young man's story were
absolutely true, then what hellish thing, what absolutely unfore-
seen and extraordinary calamity could have occurred between the
time when he parted from his father, and the moment when
drawn back by his screams, he rushed into the glade? It was
something terrible and deadly. What could it be? Might not the
nature of the injuries reveal something to my medical instincts? I
rang the bell and called for the weekly county paper, which
contained a verbatim account of the inquest. In the surgeon's
deposition it was stated that the posterior third of the left parietal
bone and the left half of the occipital bone hail been shattered by
a heavy blow from a blunt weapon. I marked the spot upon my
own head. Clearly such a blow must have been struck from
behind. That was to some extent in favour of the accused, as
when seen quarrelling he was face to face with his father. Still, it
did not go for very much, for the older man might have turned
his back before the blow fell. Still, it might be worth while to
call Holmes's attention to it. Then there was the peculiar dying
reference to a rat. What could that mean? It could not be
delirium. A man dying from a sudden blow does not commonly
become delirious. No, it was more likely to be an attempt to
explain how he met his fate. But what could it indicate? I
cudgelled my brains to find some possible explanation. And then
the incident of the gray cloth seen by young McCarthy. If that
were true the murderer must have dropped some part of his
dress, presumably his overcoat, in his flight, and must have had
the hardihood to return and to carry it away at the instant when
the son was kneeling with his back turned not a dozen paces off.
What a tissue of mysteries and improbabilities the whole thing
was! I did not wonder at Lestrade's opinion, and yet I had so
much faith in Sherlock Holmes's insight that I could not lose
hope as long as every fresh fact seemed to strengthen his convic-
tion of young McCarthy's innocence.
  It was late before Sherlock Holmes returned. He came back
alone, for Lestrade was staying in lodgings in the town.
  "The glass still keeps very high," he remarked as he sat
down. "It is of importance that it should not rain before we are
able to go over the ground. On the other hand, a man should be
at his very best and keenest for such nice work as that, and I did
not wish to do it when fagged by a long journey. I have seen
young McCarthy."
  "And what did you learn from him?"
  "Could he throw no light?"
  "None at all. I was inclined to think at one time that he knew
who had done it and was screening him or her, but I am
convinced now that he is as puzzled as everyone else. He is not a
very quick-witted youth, though comely to look at and, I should
think, sound at heart."
  "I cannot admire his taste," I remarked, "if it is indeed a fact
that he was averse to a marriage with so charming a young lady
as this Miss Turner."
  "Ah, thereby hangs a rather painful tale. This fellow is madly,
insanely, in love with her, but some two years ago, when he was
only a lad, and before he really knew her, for she had been away
five years at a boarding-school, what does the idiot do but get
into the clutches of a barmaid in Bristol and marry her at a
registry office? No one knows a word of the matter, but you can
imagine how maddening it must be to him to be upbraided for
not doing what he would give his very eyes to do, but what he
knows to be absolutely impossible. It was sheer frenzy of this
sort which made him throw his hands up into the air when his
father, at their last interview, was goading him on to propose to
Miss Turner. On the other hand, he had no means of supporting
himself, and his father, who was by all accounts a very hard
man, would have thrown him over utterly had he known the
truth. It was with his barmaid wife that he had spent the last
three days in Bristol, and his father did not know where he was.
Mark that point. It is of importance. Good has come out of evil,
however, for the barmaid, finding from the papers that he is in
serious trouble and likely to be hanged, has thrown him over
utterly and has written to him to say that she has a husband
already in the Bermuda Dockyard, so that there is really no tie
between them. I think that that bit of news has consoled young
McCarthy for all that he has suffered."
  "But if he is innocent, who has done it?"
  "Ah! who? I would call your attention very particularly to two
points. One is that the murdered man had an appointment with
someone at the pool, and that the someone could not have been
his son, for his son was away, and he did not know when he
would return. The second is that the murdered man was heard to
cry 'Cooee!' before he knew that his son had returned. Those are
the crucial points upon which the case depends. And now let us
talk about George Meredith, if you please, and we shall leave all
minor matters until to-morrow."
  There was no rain, as Holmes had foretold, and the morning
broke bright and cloudless. At nine o'clock Lestrade called for
us with the carriage, and we set off for Hatherley Farm and the
Boscombe Pool.
  "There is serious news this morning," Lestrade observed. "It
is said that Mr. Turner, of the Hall, is so ill that his life is
despaired of."
  "An elderly man, I presume?" saild Holmes.
  "About sixty; but his constitution has been shattered by his
life abroad, and he has been in failing health for some time. This
business has had a very bad effect upon him. He was an old
friend of McCarthy's, and, I may add, a great benefactor to him,
for I have learned that he gave him Hatherley Farm rent free."
  "Indeed! That is interesting," said Holmes.
  "Oh, yes! In a hundred other ways he has helped him. Every-
body about here speaks of his kindness to him."
  "Really! Does it not strike- you as a little singular that this
McCarthy, who appears to have had little of his own, and to
have been under such obligations to Turner, should still talk of
marrying his son to Turner's daughter, who is, presumably,
heiress to the estate, and that in such a very cocksure manner, as
if it were merely a case of a proposal and all else would follow?
It is the more strange, since we know that Turner himself was
averse to the idea. The daughter told us as much. Do you not
deduce something from that?"
  "We have got to the deductions and the inferences," said
Lestrade, winking at me. "I find it hard enough to tackle facts,
Holmes, without flying away after theories and fancies."
  "You are right," said Holmes demurely; "you do find it very
hard to tackle the facts."
  "Anyhow, I have grasped one fact which you seem to find it
difficult to get hold of," replied Lesbiade with some warmth.
  "And that is --"
  "That McCarthy senior met his death from McCarthy junior
and that all theories to the contrary are the merest moonshine."
  "Well, moonshine is a brighter thing than fog," said Holmes,
laughing. "But I am very much mistaken if this is not Hatherley
Farm upon the left."
  "Yes, that is it." It was a widespread, comfortable-looking
building, two-storied, slate-roofed, with great yellow blotches of
lichen upon the gray walls. The drawn blinds and the smokeless
chimneys, however, gave it a stricken look, as though the weight
of this horror still lay heavy upon it. We called at the door, when
the maid, at Holmes's request, showed us the boots which her
master wore at the time of his death, and also a pair of the son's,
though not the pair which he had then had. Having measured
these very carefully from seven or eight different points, Holmes
desired to be led to the court-yard, from which we all followed
the winding track which led to Boscombe Pool.
  Sherlock Holmes was transformed when he was hot upon such
a scent as this. Men who had only known the quiet thinker and
logician of Baker Street would have failed to recognize him. His
face flushed and darkened. His brows were drawn into two hard
black lines, while his eyes shone out from beneath them with a
steely glitter. His face was bent downward, his shoulders bowed,
his lips compressed, and the veins stood out like whipcord in his
long, sinewy neck. His nostrils seemed to dilate with a purely
animal lust for the chase, and his mind was so absolutely con-
centrated upon the matter before him that a question or remark
fell unheeded upon his ears, or, at the most, only provoked a
quick, impatient snarl in reply. Swiftly and silently he made his
way along the track which ran through the meadows, and so by
way of the woods to the Boscombe Pool. It was damp, marshy
ground, as is all that district, and there were marks of many feet,
both upon the path and amid the short grass which bounded it on
either side. Sometimes Holmes would hurry on, sometimes stop
dead, and once he made quite a little detour into the meadow.
Lestrade and I walked behind him, the detective indifferent and
contemptuous, while I watched my friend with the interest which
sprang from the conviction that every one of his actions was
directed towards a definite end.
  The Boscombe Pool, which is a little reed-girt sheet of water
some fifty yards across, is situated at the boundary between the
Hatherley Farm and the private park of the wealthy Mr. Turner.
Above the woods which lined it upon the farther side we could
see the red, jutting pinnacles which marked the site of the rich
landowner's dwelling. On the Hatherley side of the pool the
woods grew very thick, and there was a narrow belt of sodden
grass twenty paces across between the edge of the trees land the
reeds which lined the lake. Lestrade showed us the exact spot at
which the body had been found, and, indeed, so moist was the
ground, that I could plainly see the traces which had been left by
the fall of the stricken man. To Holmes, as I could see by his
eager face and peering eyes, very many other things were to be
read upon the trampled grass. He ran round, like a dog who is
picking up a scent, and then turned upon my companion.
  "What did you go into the pool for?" he asked.
  "I fished about with a rake. I thought there might be some
weapon or other trace. But how on earth --"
  "Oh, tut, tut! I have no time! That left foot of yours with its
inward twist is all over the place. A mole could trace it, and
there it vanishes among the reeds. Oh, how simple it would all
have been had I been here before they came like a herd of
buffalo and wallowed all over it. Here is where the party with
the lodge-keeper came, and they have covered all tracks for six
or eight feet round the body. But here are three separate tracks of
the same feet." He drew out a lens and lay down upon his
waterproof to have a better view, talking all the time rather to
himself than to us. "These are young McCarthy's feet. Twice he
was walking, and once he ran swiftly, so that the soles are
deeply marked and the heels hardly visible. That bears out his
story. He ran when he saw his father on the ground. Then here
are the father's feet as he paced up and down. What is this, then?
It is the butt-end of the gun as the son stood listening. And this?
Ha, ha! What have we here? Tiptoes! tiptoes! Square, too, quite
unusual boots! They come, they go, they come again -- of course
that was for the cloak. Now where did they come from?" He ran
up and down, sometimes losing, sometimes finding the track
until we were well within the edge of the wood and under the
shadow of a great beech, the largest tree in the neighbourhood.
Holmes traced his way to the farther side of this and lay down
once more upon his face with a little cry of satisfaction. For a
long time he remained there, turning over the leaves and dried
sticks, gathering up what seemed to me to be dust into an
envelope and examining with his lens not only the ground but
even the bark of the tree as far as he could reach. A jagged stone
was lying among the moss, and this also he carefully examined
and retained. Then he followed a pathway through the wood
until he came to the highroad, where all traces were lost.
  "It has been a case of considerable interest," he remarked,
returning to his natural manner. "I fancy that this gray house on
the right must be the lodge. I think that I will go in and have a
word with Moran, and perhaps write a little note. Having done
that, we may drive back to our lunchebn. You may walk to the
cab, and I shall be with you presently."
  It was about ten minutes before we regained our cab and drove
back into Ross, Holmes still carrying with him the stone which
he had picked up in the wood.
  "This may interest you, Lestrade," he remarked, holding it
out. "The murder was done with it."
  "I see no marks."
  "There are none."
  "How do you know, then?"
  "The grass was growing under it. It had only lain there a few
days. There was no sign of a place whence it had been taken. It
corresponds with the injuries. There is no sign of any other
  "And the murderer?''
  "Is a tall man, left-handed, limps with the right leg, wears
thick-soled shooting-boots and a gray cloak, smokes Indian ci-
gars, uses a cigar-holder, and carries a blunt pen-knife in his
pocket. There are several other indications, but these may be
enough to aid us in our search."
  Lestrade laughed. "I am afraid that I am still a sceptic," he
said. "Theories are all very well, but we have to deal with a
hard-headed British jury."
  "Nous verrons," answered Holmes calmly. "You work your
own method, and I shall work mine. I shall be busy this after-
noon, and shall probably return to London by the evening train."
  "And leave your case unfinished?"
  "No, finished."
  "But the mystery?"
  "It is solved.'
  "Who was the criminal, then?"
  "The gentleman I describe."
  "But who is he?''
  "Surely it would not be difficult to find out. This is not such a
populous neighbourhood."
  Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. "I am a practical man," he
said, "and I really cannot undertake to go about the country
looking for a left-handed gentleman with a game-leg. I should
become the laughing-stock of Scotland Yard."
  "All right," said Holmes quietly. "I have given you the
chance. Here are your lodgings. Good-bye. I shall drop you a
line before I leave."
  Having left Lestrade at his rooms, we drove to our hotel,
where we found lunch upon the table. Holmes was silent and
buried in thought with a pained expression upon his face, as one
who finds himself in a perplexing position.
  "Look here, Watson," he said when the cloth was cleared
"just sit down in this chair and let me preach to you for a little.
don't know quite what to do, and I should value your advice.
Light a cigar and let me expound."
   "Pray do so."
  "Well, now, in considering this case there are two points
about young McCarthy's narrative which struck us both in-
stantly, although they impressed me in his favour and you against
him. One was the fact that his father should, according to his
account, cry 'Cooee!' before seeing him. The other was his
singular dying reference to a rat. He mumbled several words, you
understand, but that was all that caught the son's ear. Now from
this double point our research must commence, and we will
begin it by presuming that what the lad says is absolutely true."
  "What of this 'Cooee!' then?"
  "Well, obviously it could not have been meant for the son.
The son, as far as he knew, was in Bristol. It was mere chance
that he was within earshot. The 'Cooee!' was meant to attract the
attention of whoever it was that he had the appointment with.
But 'Cooee' is a distinctly Australian cry, and one which is used
between Australians. There is a strong presumption that the
person whom McCarthy expected to meet him at Boscombe Pool
was someone who had been in Australia."
  "What of the rat, then?"
  Sherlock Holmes took a folded paper from his pocket and
flattened it out on the table. "This is a map of the Colony of
Victoria," he said. "I wired to Bristol for it last night." He put
his hand over part of the map. "What do you read?"
  "ARAT," I read.
  "And now?" He raised his hand.
  "Quite so. That was the word the man uttered, and of which
his son only caught the last two syllables. He was trying to utter
the name of his murderer. So and so, of Ballarat."
  "It is wonderful!" I exclaimed.
  "It is obvious. And now, you see, I had narrowed the field
down considerably. The possession of a gray garment was a third
point which, granting the son's statement to be correct, was a
certainty. We have come now out of mere vagueness to the
definite conception of an Australian from Ballarat with a gray
  "Certainly. "
  "And one who was at home in the district, for the pool can
only be approached by the farm or by the estate, where strangers
could hardly wander."
  "Quite so."
  "Then comes our expedition of to-day. By an examination of
the ground I gained the trifling details which I gave to that
imbecile Lestrade, as to the personality of the criminal."
  "But how did you gain them?"
  "You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of
  "His height I know that you might roughly judge from the
length of his stride. His boots, too, might be told from their
  "Yes, they were peculiar boots."
  "But his lameness?"
  "The impression of his right foot was always less distinct than
his left. He put less weight upon it. Why? Because he limped -- he
was lame."
  "But his left-handedness."
  "You were yourself struck by the nature of the injury as
recorded by the surgeon at-the inquest. The blow was struck
from immediately behind, and yet was upon the left side. Now,
how can that be unless it were by a left-handed man? He had
stood behind that tree during the interview between the father
and son. He had even smoked there. I found the ash of a cigar,
which my special knowledge of tobacco ashes enables me to
pronounce as an Indian cigar. I have, as you know, devoted
some attention to this, and written a little monograph on the
ashes of 140 different varieties of pipe, cigar, and cigarette
tobacco. Having found the ash, I then looked round and discov-
ered the stump among the moss where he had tossed it. It was an
Indian cigar, of the variety which are rolled in Rotterdam."
  "And the cigar-holder?"
  "I could see that the end had not been in his mouth. Therefore
he used a holder. The tip had been cut off, not bitten off, but the
cut was not a clean one, so I deduced a blunt pen-knife."
  "Holmes," I said, "you have drawn a net round this man
from which he cannot escape, and you have saved an innocent
human life as truly as if you had cut the cord which was hanging
him. I see the direction in which all this points. The culprit
is --"
  "Mr. John Turner," cried the hotel waiter, opening the door
of our sitting-room, and ushering in a visitor.
  The man who entered was a strange and impressive figure. His
slow, limping step and bowed shoulders gave the appearance of
decrepitude, and yet his hard, deep-lined, craggy features, and
his enormous limbs showed that he was possessed of unusual
strength of body and of character. His tangled beard, grizzled
hair, and outstanding, drooping eyebrows combined to give an
air of dignity and power to his appearance, but his face was of an
ashen white, while his lips and the corners of his nostrils were
tinged with a shade of blue. It was clear to me at a glance that he
was in the grip of some deadly and chronic disease.
  "Pray sit down on the sofa," said Holmes gently. "You had
my note?"
  "Yes, the lodge-keeper brought it up. You said that you
wished to see me here to avoid scandal."
  "I thought people would talk if I went to the Hall."
  "And why did you wish to see me?" He looked across at my
companion with despair in his weary eyes, as though his ques-
tion was already answered.
  "Yes," said Holmes, answering the look rather than the
words. "It is so. I know all about McCarthy."
  The old man sank his face in his hands. "God help me!" he
cried. "But I would not have let the young man come to harm. I
give you my word that I would have spoken out if it went against
him at the Assizes."
  "I am glad to hear you say so," said Holmes gravely.
  "I would have spoken now had it not been for my dear girl. It
would break her heart -- it will break her heart when she hears
that I am arrested."
  "It may not come to that," said Holmes.
  "I am no official agent. I understand that it was your daughter
who required my presence here, and I am acting in her interests.
Young McCarthy must be got off, however."
  "I am a dying man," said old Turner. "I have had diabetes
for years. My doctor says it is a question whether I shall live a
month. Yet I would rather die under my own roof than in a jail."
  Holmes rose and sat down at the table with his pen in his hand
and a bundle of paper before him. "lust tell us the truth," he
said. "I shall jot down the facts. You will sign it, and Watson
here can witness it. Then I could produce your confession at the
last extremity to save young McCarthy. I promise you that I shall
not use it unless it is absolutely needed."
  "It's as well," said the old man; "it's a question whether I
shall live to the Assizes, so it matters little to me, but I should
wish to spare Alice the shock. And now I will make the thing
clear to you; it has been a long time in the acting, but will not
take me long to tell.
  "You didn't know this dead man, McCarthy. He was a devil
incarnate. I tell you that. God keep you out of the clutches of
such a man as he. His grip has been upon me these twenty years,
and he has blasted my life. I'll tell you first how I came to be in
his power.
  "It was in the early '60's at the diggings. I was a young chap
then, hot-blooded and reckless, ready to turn my hand at any-
thing; I got among bad companions, took to drink, had no luck
with my claim, took to the bush, and in a word became what
you would call over here a highway robber. There were six of
us, and we had a wild, free life of it, sticking up a station from
time to time, or stopping the wagons on the road to the diggings.
Black Jack of Ballarat was the name I went under, and our party
is still remembered in the colony as the Ballarat Gang.
  "One day a gold convoy came down from Ballarat to Mel-
bourne, and we lay in wait for it and attacked it. There were six
troopers and six of us, so it was a close thing, but we emptied
four of their saddles at the first volley. Three of our boys were
killed, however, before we got the swag. I put my pistol to the
head of the wagon-driver, who was this very man McCarthy. I
wish to the Lord that I had shot him then, but I spared him,
though I saw his wicked little eyes fixed on my face, as though
to remember every feature. We got away with the gold, became
wealthy men, and made our way over to England without being
suspected. There I parted from my old pals and determined to
settle down to a quiet and respectable life. I bought this estate,
which chanced to be in the market, and I set myself to do a little
good with my money, to make up for the way in which I had
earned it. I married, too, and though my wife died young she left
me my dear little Alice. Even when she was just a baby her wee
hand seemed to lead me down the right path as nothing else had
ever done. In a word, I turned over a new leaf and did my best to
make up for the past. All was going well when McCarthy laid
hls grip upon me.
  "I had gone up to town about an investment, and I met him in
Regent Street with hardly a coat to his back or a boot to his foot.
  "'Here we are, Jack,' says he, touching me on the arm;
'we'll be as good as a family to you. There's two of us, me and
my son, and you can have the keeping of us. If you don't -- it's a
fine, law-abiding country is England, and there's always a po-
liceman within hail.'
  "Well, down they came to the west country, there was no
shaking them off, and there they have lived rent free on my best
land ever since. There was no rest for me, no peace, no forget-
fulness; turn where I would, there was his cunning, grinning
face at my elbow. It grew worse as Alice grew up, for he soon
saw I was more afraid of her knowing my past than of the police.
Whatever he wanted he must have, and whatever it was I gave
him without question, land, money, houses, until at last he
asked a thing which I could not give. He asked for Alice.
  "His son, you see, had grown up, and so had my girl, and as I
was known to be in weak health, it seemed a fine stroke to him
that his lad should step into the whole property. But there I was
firm. I would not have his cursed stock mixed with mine; not
that I had any dislike to the lad, but his blood was in him, and
that was enough. I stood firm. McCarthy threatened. I braved
him to do his worst. We were to meet at the pool midway
between our houses to talk it over.
  "When we went down there I found him talking with his son,
so smoked a cigar and waited behind a tree until he should be
alone. But as I listened to his talk all that was black and bitter in
me seemed to come uppermost. He was urging his son to marry my
daughter with as little regard for what she might think as if she
were a slut from off the streets. It drove me mad to think that I
and all that I held most dear should be in the power of such a
man as this. Could I not snap the bond? I was already a dying
and a desperate man. Though clear of mind and fairly strong of
limb, I knew that my own fate was sealed. But my memory and
my girl! Both could be saved if I could but silence that foul
tongue. I did it, Mr. Holmes. I would do it again. Deeply as I
have sinned, I have led a life of martyrdom to atone for it. But
that my girl should be entangled in the same meshes which held
me was more than I could suffer. I struck him down with no
more compunction than if he had been some foul and venomous
beast. His cry brought back his son; but I had gained the cover of
the wood, though I was forced to go back to fetch the cloak
which I had dropped in my flight. That is the true story, gentle-
men, of all that occurred."
  "Well, it is not for me to judge you," said Holmes as the old
man signed the statement which had been drawn out. "I pray
that we may never be exposed to such a temptation."
  "I pray not, sir. And what do you intend to do?"
  "In view of your health, nothing. You are yourself aware that
you will soon have to answer for your deed at a higher court than
the Assizes. I will keep your confession, and if McCarthy is
condemned I shall be forced to use it. If not, it shall never be
seen by mortal eye; and your secret, whether you be alive or
dead, shall be safe with us."
  "Farewell, then," said the old man solemnly. "Your own
deathbeds, when they come, will be the easier for the thought of
the peace which you have given to mine." Tottering and shaking
in all his giant frame, he stumbled slowly from the room.
  "God help us!" said Holmes after a long silence. "Why does
fate play such tricks with poor, helpless worms? I never hear of
such a case as this that I do not think of Baxter's words, and say,
'There, but for the grace of God, goes Sherlock Holmes.' "
  James McCarthy was acquitted at the Assizes on the strength
of a number of objections which had been drawn out by Holmes
and submitted to the defending counsel. Old Turner lived for
seven months after our interview, but he is now dead; and there
is every prospect that the son and daughter may come to live
happily together in ignorance of the black cloud which rests upon
their past.

                The Five Orange Pips

  When I glance over my notes and records of the Sherlock
Holmes cases between the years '82 and '90, I am faced by so
many which present strange and interesting features that it is no
easy matter to know which to choose and which to leave. Some,
however, have already gained publicity through the papers, and
others have not offered a field for those peculiar qualities which
my friend possessed in so high a degree, and which it is the
object of these papers to illustrate. Some, too, have baffled his
analytical skill, and would be, as narratives, beginnings without
an ending, while others have been but partially cleared up, and
have their explanations founded rather upon conjecture and sur-
mise than on that absolute logical proof which was so dear to
him. There is, however, one of these last which was so remark-
able in its details and so startling in its results that I am tempted
to give some account of it in spite of the fact that there are points
in connection with it which never have been, and probably never
will be, entirely cleared up.
  The year '87 furnished us with a long series of cases of
greater or less interest, of which I retain the records. Among my
headings under this one twelve months I find an account of the
adventure of the Paradol Chamber, of the Amateur Mendicant
Society, who held a luxurious club in the lower vault of a
furniture warehouse, of the facts connected with the loss of the
British bark Sophy Anderson, of the singular adventures of the
Grice Patersons in the island of Uffa, and finally of the Camberwell
poisoning case. In the latter, as may be remembered, Sherlock
Holmes was able, by winding up the dead man's watch, to prove
that it had been wound up two hours before, and that therefore
the deceased had gone to bed within that time -- a deduction
which was of the greatest importance in clearing up the case. All
these I may sketch out at some future date, but none of them
present such singular features as the strange train of circum-
stances which I have now taken up my pen to describe.
  It was in the latter days of September, and the equinoctial
gales had set in with exceptional violence. All day the wind had
screamed and the rain had beaten against the windows, so that
even here in the heart of great, hand-made London we were
forced to raise our minds for the instant from the routine of life
and to recognize the presence of those great elemental forces
which shriek at mankind through the bars of his civilization, like
untamed beasts in a cage. As evening drew in, the storm grew
higher and louder, and the wind cried and sobbed like a child in
the chimney. Sherlock Holmes sat moodily at one side of the
fireplace cross-indexing his records of crime, while I at the other
was deep in one of Clark Russell's fine sea-stories until the howl
of the gale from without seemed to blend with the text, and the
splash of the rain to lengthen out into the long swash of the sea
waves. My wife was on a visit to her mother's, and for a few
days I was a dweller once more in my old quarters at Baker
  "Why," said I, glancing up at my companion, "that was
surely the bell. Who could come to-night? Some friend of yours,
  "Except yourself I have none," he answered. "I do not
encourage visitors."
  "A client, then?"
  "If so, it is a serious case. Nothing less would bring a man
out on such a day and at such an hour. But I take it that it is
more likely to be some crony of the landlady's."
  Sherlock Holmes was wrong in his conjecture, however, for
there came a step in the passage and a tapping at the door. He
stretched out his long arm to turn the lamp away from himself
and towards the vacant chair upon which a newcomer must sit.
  "Come in!" said he.
  The man who entered was young, some two-and-twenty at the
outside, well-groomed and trimly clad, with something of refine-
ment and delicacy in his bearing. The streaming umbrella which
he held in his hand, and his long shining waterproof told of the
fierce weather through which he had come. He looked about him
anxiously in the glare of the lamp, and I could see that his face
was pale and his eyes heavy, like those of a man who is weighed
down with some great anxiety.
  "l owe you an apology," he said, raising his golden pince-nez
to his eyes. "I trust that I am not intruding. I fear that I have
brought some traces of the storm and rain into your snug chamber."
  "Give me your coat and umbrella," said Holmes. "They may
rest here on the hook and will be dry presently. You have come
up from the south-west, I see."
  "Yes, from Horsham."
  "That clay and chalk mixture which I see upon your toe caps
is quite distinctive."
  "I have come for advice."
  "That is easily got."
  "And help."
  "That is not always so easy."
  "I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes. I heard from Major
Prendergast how you saved him in the Tankerville Club scandal."
  "Ah, of course. He was wrongfully accused of cheating at
  "He said that you could solve anything."
  "He said too much."
  "That you are never beaten."
  "I have been beaten four times  -  three times by men, and
once by a woman."
  "But what is that compared with the number of your successes?"
  "It is true that I have been generally successful."
  "Then you may be so with me."
  "I beg that you will draw your chair up to the fire and favour
me with some details as to your case."
  "It is no ordinary one."
  "None of those which come to me are. I am the last court of
  "And yet I question, sir, whether, in all your experience, you
have ever listened to a more mysterious and inexplicable chain of
events than those which have happened in my own family."
  "You fill me with interest," said Holmes. "Pray give us the
essential facts from the commencement, and I can afterwards
question you as to those details which seem to me to be most
  The young man pulled his chair up and pushed his wet feet out
towards the blaze.
  "My name," said he, "is John Openshaw, but my own affairs
have, as far as I can understand, little to do with this awful
business. It is a hereditary matter; so in order to give you an idea
of the facts, I must go back to the commencement of the affair.
  "You must know that my grandfather had two sons -- my
uncle Elias and my father Joseph. My father had a small factory
at Coventry, which he enlarged at the time of the invention of
bicycling. He was a patentee of the Openshaw unbreakable tire,
and his business met with such success that he was able to sell it
and to retire upon a handsome competence.
  "My uncle Elias emigrated to America when he was a young
man and became a planter in Florida, where he was reported to
have done very well. At the time of the war he fought in
Jackson's army, and afterwards under Hood, where he rose to be
a colonel. When Lee laid down his arms my uncle returned to his
plantation, where he remained for three or four years. About
1869 or 1870 he came back to Europe and took a small estate in
Sussex, near Horsham. He had made a very considerable fortune
in the States, and his reason for leaving them was his aversion to
the negroes, and his dislike of the Republican policy in extend-
ing the franchise to them. He was a singular man, fierce and
quick-tempered, very foul-mouthed when he was angry, and of a
most retiring disposition. During all the years that he lived at
Horsham, I doubt if ever he set foot in the town. He had a
garden and two or three fields round his house, and there he
would take his exercise, though very often for weeks on end he
would never leave his room. He drank a great deal of brandy and
smoked very heavily, but he would see no society and did not
want any friends, not even his own brother.
  "He didn't mind me; in fact, he took a fancy to me, for at the
time when he saw me first I was a youngster of twelve or so.
This would be in the year 1878, after he had been eight or nine
years in England. He begged my father to let me live with him
and he was very kind to me in his way. When he was sober he
used to be fond of playing backgammon and draughts with me,
and he would make me his representative both with the servants
and with the tradespeople, so that by the time that I was sixteen I
was quite master of the house. I kept all the keys and could go
where I liked and do what I liked, so long as I did not disturb
him in his privacy. There was one singular exception, however,
for he had a single room, a lumber-room up among the attics,
which was invariably locked, and which he would never permit
either me or anyone else to enter. With a boy's curiosity I have
peeped through the keyhole, but I was never able to see more
than such a collection of old trunks and bundles as would be
expected in such a room.
  "One day -- it was in March, 1883 -- a letter with a foreign
stamp lay upon the table in front of the colonel's plate. It was
not a common thing for him to receive letters, for his bills were
all paid in ready money, and he had no friends of any sort. 'From
India!' said he as he took it up, 'Pondicherry postmark! What
can this be?' Opening it hurriedly, out there jumped five little
dried orange pips, which pattered down upon his plate. I began
to laugh at this, but the laugh was struck from my lips at the
sight of his face. His lip had fallen, his eyes were protruding, his
skin the colour of putty, and he glared at the envelope which he
still held in his trembling hand, 'K. K. K.!' he shrieked, and
then, 'My God, my God, my sins have overtaken me!'
  " 'What is it, uncle?' I cried.
  " 'Death,' said he, and rising from the table he retired to his
room, leaving me palpitating with horror. I took up the envelope
and saw scrawled in red ink upon the inner flap, just above the
gum, the letter K three times repeated. There was nothing else
save the five dried pips. What could be the reason of his over-
powering terror? I left the breakfast-table, and as I ascended the
stair I met him coming down with an old rusty key, which must
have belonged to the attic, in one hand, and a small brass box,
like a cashbox, in the other.
  " 'They may do what they like, but I'll checkmate them still,'
said he with an oath. 'Tell Mary that I shall want a fire in my
room to-day, and send down to Fordham, the Horsham lawyer.'
  "I did as he ordered, and when the lawyer arrived I was asked
to step up to the room. The fire was burning brightly, and in the
grate there was a mass of black, fluffy ashes, as of burned paper,
while the brass box stood open and empty beside it. As I glanced
at the box I noticed, with a start, that upon the lid was printed
the treble K which I had read in the morning upon the envelope.
  " 'I wish you, John,' said my uncle, 'to witness my will. I
leave my estate, with all its advantages and all its disadvantages,
to my brother, your father, whence it will, no doubt, descend to
you. If you can enjoy it in peace, well and good! If you find you
cannot, take my advice, my boy, and leave it to your deadliest
enemy. I am sorry to give you such a two-edged thing, but I
can't say what turn things are going to take. Kindly sign the
paper where Mr. Fordham shows you.'
  "I signed the paper as directed, and the lawyer took it away
with him. The singular incident made, as you may think, the
deepest impression upon me, and I pondered over it and turned it
every way in my mind without being able to make anything of it.
Yet I could not shake off the vague feeling of dread which it left
behind, though the sensation grew less keen as the weeks passed
and nothing happened to disturb the usual routine of our lives. I
could see a change in my uncle, however. He drank more than
ever, and he was less inclined for any sort of society. Most of his
time he would spend in his room, with the door locked upon the
inside, but sometimes he would emerge in a sort of drunken
frenzy and would burst out of the house and tear about the
garden with a revolver in his hand, screaming out that he was
afraid of no man, and that he was not to be cooped up, like a
sheep in a pen, by man or devil. When these hot fits were over
however, he would rush tumultuously in at the door and lock and
bar it behind him, like a man who can brazen it out no longer
against the terror which lies at the roots of his soul. At such
times I have seen his face, even on a cold day, glisten with
moisture, as though it were new raised from a basin.
  "Well, to come to an end of the matter, Mr. Holmes, and not
to abuse your patience, there came a night when he made one of
those drunken sallies from which he never came back. We found
him, when we went to search for him, face downward in a little
green-scummed pool, which lay at the foot of the garden. There
was no sign of any violence, and the water was but two feet
deep, so that the jury, having regard to his known eccentricity,
brought in a verdict of 'suicide.' But I, who knew how he
winced from the very thought of death, had much ado to persuade
myself that he had gone out of his way to meet it. The matter
passed, however, and my father entered into possession of the
estate, and of some 14,000 pounds, which lay to his credit at the
  "One moment," Holmes interposed, "your statement is, I
foresee, one of the most remarkable to which I have ever lis-
tened. Let me have the date of the reception by your uncle of the
letter, and the date of his supposed suicide."
  "The letter arrived on March 10, 1883. His death was seven
weeks later, upon the night of May 2d."
  "Thank you. Pray proceed."
  "When my father took over the Horsham property, he, at my
request, made a careful examination of the attic, which had been
always locked up. We found the brass box there, although its
contents had been destroyed. On the inside of the cover was a
paper label, with the initials of K. K. K. repeated upon it, and
'Letters, memoranda, receipts, and a register' written beneath.
These, we presume, indicated the nature of the papers which had
been destroyed by Colonel Openshaw. For the rest, there was
nothing of much importance in the attic save a great many
scattered papers and note-books bearing upon my uncle's life in
America. Some of them were of the war time and showed that he
had done his duty well and had borne the repute of a brave
soldier. Others were of a date during the reconstruction of the
Southern states, and were mostly concerned with politics, for he
had evidently taken a strong part in opposing the carpet-bag
politicians who had been sent down from the North.
  "Well, it was the beginning of '84 when my father came to
live at Horsham, and all went as well as possible with us until
the January of '85. On the fourth day after the new year I heard
my father give a sharp cry of surprise as we sat together at the
breakfast-table. There he was, sitting with a newly opened enve-
lope in one hand and five dried orange pips in the outstretched
palm of the other one. He had always laughed at what he called
my cock-and-bull story about the colonel, but he looked very
scared and puzzled now that the same thing had come upon
  " 'Why, what on earth does this mean, John?' he stammered.
  "My heart had turned to lead. 'It is K. K. K.,' said I.
  "He looked inside the envelope. 'So it is,' he cried. 'Here are
the very letters. But what is this written above them?'
  " 'Put the papers on the sundial,' I read, peeping over his
  " 'What papers? What sundial?' he asked.
  " 'The sundial in the garden. There is no other,' said I; 'but
the papers must be those that are destroyed.'
  " 'Pooh!' said he, gripping hard at his courage. 'We are in a
civilized land here, and we can't have tomfoolery of this kind.
Where does the thing come from?'
  " 'From Dundee,' I answered, glancing at the postmark.
  " 'Some preposterous practical joke,' said he. 'What have I to
do with sundials and papers? I shall take no notice of such
  " 'I should certainly speak to the police,' I said.
  " 'And be laughed at for my pains. Nothing of the sort.'
  " 'Then let me do so?'
  " 'No, I forbid you. I won't have a fuss made about such
  "It was in vain to argue with him, for he was a very obstinate
man. I went about, however, with a heart which was full of
  "On the third day after the coming of the letter my father went
from home to visit an old friend of his, Major Freebody, who is
in command of one of the forts upon Portsdown Hill. I was glad
that he should go, for it seemed to me that he was farther from
danger when he was away from home. In that, however, I was in
error. Upon the second day of his absence I received a telegram
from the major, imploring me to come at once. My father had
fallen over one of the deep chalk-pits which abound in the
neighbourhood, and was lying senseless, with a shattered skull. I
hurried to him, but he passed away without having ever recov-
ered his consciousness. He had, as it appears, been returning
from Fareham in the twilight, and as the country was unknown
to him, and the chalk-pit unfenced, the jury had no hesitation in
bringing in a verdict of 'death from accidental causes.' Carefully
as I examined every fact connected with his death, I was unable
to find anything which could suggest the idea of murder. There
were no signs of violence, no footmarks, no robbery, no record
of strangers having been seen upon the roads. And yet I need not
tell you that my mind was far from at ease, and that I was
well-nigh certain that some foul plot had been woven round him.
  "In this sinister way I came into my inheritance. You will ask
me why I did not dispose of it? I answer, because I was well
convinced that our troubles were in some way dependent upon an
incident in my uncle's life, and that the danger would be as
pressing in one house as in another.
  "It was in January, '85, that my poor father met his end, and
two years and eight months have elapsed since then. During that
time I have lived happily at Horsham, and I had begun to hope
that this curse had passed way from the family, and that it had
ended with the last generation. I had begun to take comfort too
soon, however; yesterday morning the blow fell in the very
shape in which it had come upon my father."
  The young man took from his waistcoat a crumpled envelope,
and turning to the table he shook out upon it five little dried
orange pips.
  "This is the envelope," he continued. "The postmark is
London -- eastern division. Within are the very words which
were upon my father's last message: 'K. K. K.'; and then 'Put
the papers on the sundial.' "
  "What have you done?'' asked Holmes.
  "To tell the truth" -- he sank his face into his thin, white
hands -- "I have felt helpless. I have felt like one of those poor
rabbits when the snake is writhing towards it. I seem to be in the
grasp of some resistless, inexorable evil, which no foresight and
no precautions can guard against."
  "Tut! tut!" cried Sherlock Holmes. "You must act, man, or
you are lost. Nothing but energy can save you. This is no time
for despair."
  "I have seen the police."
  "But they listened to my story with a smile. I am convinced
that the inspector has formed the opinion that the letters are all
practical jokes, and that the deaths of my relations were really
accidents, as the jury stated, and were not to be connected with
the warnings."
  Holmes shook his clenched hands in the air. "Incredible
imbecility!" he cried.
  "They have, however, allowed me a policeman, who may re-
main in the house with me."
  "Has he come with you to-night?"
  "No. His orders were to stay in the house."
  Again Holmes raved in the air.
  "Why did you come to me," he cried, "and, above all, why
did you not come at once?"
  "I did not know. It was only to-day that I spoke to Major
Prendergast about my troubles and was advised by him to come
to you."
  "It is really two days since you had the letter. We should have
acted before this. You have no further evidence, I suppose, than
that which you have placed before us -- no suggestive detail
which might help us?"
  "There is one thing," said John Openshaw. He rummaged in
his coat pocket, and, drawing out a piece of discoloured, blue-
tinted paper, he laid it out upon the table. "I have some remem-
brance," said he, "that on the day when my uncle burned the
papers I observed that the small, unburned margins which lay
amid the ashes were of this particular colour. I found this single
sheet upon the floor of his room, and I am inclined to think that
it may be one of the papers which has, perhaps, fluttered out
from among the others, and in that way has escaped destruction.
Beyond the mention of pips, I do not see that it helps us much. I
think myself that it is a page from some private diary. The
writing is undoubtedly my uncle's."
  Holmes moved the lamp, and we both bent over the sheet of
paper, which showed by its ragged edge that it had indeed been
torn from a book. It was headed, "March, 1869," and beneath
were the following enigmatical notices:

     4th. Hudson came. Same old platform.

     7th. Set the pips on McCauley, Paramore, and John Swain,
          of St. Augustine.
     9th. McCauley cleared.
     1Oth. John Swain cleared.
     12th. Visited Paramore. All well.

  "Thank you!" said Holmes, folding up the paper and return-
ing it to our visitor. "And now you must on no account lose
another instant. We cannot spare time even to discuss what you
have told me. You must get home instantly and act."
  "What shall I do?"
  "There is but one thing to do. It must be done at once. You
must put this piece of paper which you have shown us into the
brass box which you have described. You must also put in a note
to say that all the other papers were burned by your uncle, and
that this is the only one which remains. You must assert that in
such words as will carry conviction with them. Having done
this, you must at once put the box out upon the sundial, as
directed. Do you understand?"
  "Do not think of revenge, or anything of the sort, at present. I
think that we may gain that by means of the law; but we have
our web to weave, while theirs is already woven. The first
consideration is to remove the pressing danger which threatens
you. The second is to clear up the mystery and to punish the
guilty parties."
  "I thank you," said the young man, rising and pulling on his
overcoat. "You have given me fresh life and hope. I shall
certainly do as you advise."
  "Do not lose an instant. And, above all, take care of yourself
in the meanwhile, for I do not think that there can be a doubt that
you are threatened by a very real and imminent danger. How do
you go back?
  "By train from Waterloo."
  "It is not yet nine. The streets will be crowded, so l trust that
you may be in safety. And yet you cannot guard yourself too
  "I am armed."
  "That is well. To-morrow I shall set to work upon your case."
  "I shall see you at Horsham, then?"
  "No, your secret lies in London. It is there that I shall seek
  "Then I shall call upon you in a day, or in two days, with
news as to the box and the papers. I shall take your advice in
every particular." He shook hands with us and took his leave.
Outside the wind still screamed and the rain splashed and pat-
tered against the windows. This strange, wild story seemed to
have come to us from amid the mad elements -- blown in upon us
like a sheet of sea-weed in a gale -- and now to have been
reabsorbed by them once more.
  Sherlock Holmes sat for some time in silence, with his head
sunk forward and his eyes bent upon the red glow of the fire.
Then he lit his pipe, and leaning back in his chair he watched the
blue smoke-rings as they chased each other up to the ceiling.
  "I think, Watson," he remarked at last, "that of all our cases
we have had none more fantastic than this."
  "Save, perhaps, the Sign of Four."
  "Well, yes. Save, perhaps, that. And yet this John Openshaw
seems to me to be walking amid even greater perils than did the
  "But have you," I asked, "formed any definite conception as
to what these perils are?"
  "There can be no question as to their nature," he answered.
  "Then what are they? Who is this K. K. K., and why does he
pursue this unhappy family?"
  Sherlock Holmes closed his eyes and placed his elbows upon
the arms of his chair, with his finger-tips together. "The ideal
reasoner," he remarked, "would, when he had once been shown
a single fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all the
chain of events which led up to it but also all the results which
would follow from it. As Cuvier could correctly describe a
whole animal by the contemplation of a single bone, so the
observer who has thoroughly understood one link in a series of
incidents should be able to accurately state all the other ones,
both before and after. We have not yet grasped the results which
the reason alone can attain to. Problems may be solved in the
study which have baffled all those who have sought a solution by
the aid of their senses. To carry the art, however, to its highest
pitch, it is necessary that the reasoner should be able to utilize all
the facts which have come to his knowledge; and this in itself
implies, as you will readily see, a possession of all knowledge,
which, even in these days of free education and encyclopaedias,
is a somewhat rare accomplishment. It is not so impossible,
however, that a man should possess all knowledge which is
likely to be useful to him in his work, and this I have endeav-
oured in my case to do. If I remember rightly, you on one
occasion, in the early days of our friendship, defined my limits
in a very precise fashion."
  "Yes," I answered, laughing. "It was a singular document.
Philosophy, astronomy, and politics were marked at zero, I
remember. Botany variable, geology profound as regards the
mud-stains from any region within fifty miles of town, chemistry
eccentric, anatomy unsystematic, sensational literature and crime
records unique, violin-player, boxer, swordsman, lawyer, and
self-poisoner by cocaine and tobacco. Those, I think, were the
main points of my analysis."
  Holmes grinned at the last item. "Well," he said, "I say
now, as I said then, that a man should keep his little brain-attic
stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest
he can put away in the lumber-room of his library, where he can
get it if he wants it. Now, for such a case as the one which has
been submitted to us to-night, we need certainly to muster all our
resources. Kindly hand me down the letter K of the American
Encyclopaedia which stands upon the shelf beside you. Thank
you. Now let us consider the situation and see what may be
deduced from it. In the first place, we may start with a strong
presumption that Colonel Openshaw had some very strong rea-
son for leaving America. Men at his time of life do not change
all their habits and exchange willingly the charming climate of
Florida for the lonely life of an English provincial town. His
extreme love of solitude in England suggests the idea that he was
in fear of someone or something, so we may assume as a
working hypothesis that it was fear of someone or something
which drove him from America. As to what it was he feared, we
can only deduce that by considering the formidable letters which
were received by himself and his successors. Did you remark the
postmarks of those letters?"
  "The first was from Pondicherry, the second from Dundee,
and the third from London."
  "From East London. What do you deduce from that?"
  "They are all seaports. That the writer was on board of a
  "Excellent. We have already a clue. There can be no doubt
that the probability -- the strong probability -- is that the writer
was on board of a ship. And now let us consider another point.
In the case of Pondicherry, seven weeks elapsed between the
threat and its fulfillment, in Dundee it was only some three or
four days. Does that suggest anything?"
  "A greater distance to travel."
  "But the letter had also a greater distance to come."
  "Then I do not see the point."
  "There is at least a presumption that the vessel in which the
man or men are is a sailing-ship. It looks as if they always seni
their singular warning or token before them when starting upon
their mission. You see how quickly the deed followed the sign
when it came from Dundee. If they had come from Pondicherry
in a steamer they would have arrived almost as soon as their
letter. But, as a matter of fact, seven weeks elapsed. I think that
those seven weeks represented the difference between the mail-
boat which brought the letter and the sailing vessel which brought
the writer."
  "It is possible."
  "More than that. It is probable. And now you see the deadly
urgency of this new case, and why I urged young Openshaw to
caution. The blow has always fallen at the end of the time which
it would take the senders to travel the distance. But this one
comes from London, and therefore we cannot count upon delay."
  "Good God!" I cried. "What can it mean, this relentless
  "The papers which Openshaw carried are obviously of vital
importance to the person or persons in the sailing-ship. I think
that it is quite clear that there must be more than one of them. A
single man could not have carried out two deaths in such a way
as to deceive a coroner's jury. There must have been several in
it, and they must have been men of resource and determination.
Their papers they mean to have, be the holder of them who it
may. In this way you see K. K. K. ceases to be the initials of an
individual and becomes the badge of a society."
  "But of what society?"
  "Have you never --" said Sherlock Holmes, bending forward
and sinking his voice --"have you never heard of the Ku Klux
  "I never have."
  Holmes turned over the leaves of the book upon his knee.
"Here it is," said he presently:

      "Ku Klux Klan. A name derived from the fanciful resem-
    blance to the sound produced by cocking a rifle. This
    terrible secret society was formed by some ex-Confederate
    soldiers in the Southern states after the Civil War, and it
    rapidly formed local branches in different parts of the
    country, notably in Tennessee, Louisiana, the Carolinas,
    Georgia, and Florida. Its power was used for political
    purposes, principally for the terrorizing of the negro vot-
    ers and the murdering and driving from the country of
    those who were opposed to its views. Its outrages were
    usually preceded by a warning sent to the marked man in
    some fantastic but generally recognized shape -- a sprig of
    oak-leaves in some parts, melon seeds or orange pips in
    others. On receiving this the victim might either openly
    abjure his former ways, or might fly from the country. If
    he braved the matter out, death would unfailingly come
    upon him, and usually in some strange and unforeseen
    manner. So perfect was the organization of the society,
    and so systematic its methods, that there is hardly a case
    upon record where any man succeeded in braving it with
    impunity, or in which any of its outrages were traced
    home to the perpetrators. For some years the organization
    flourished in spite of the efforts of the United States
    government and of the better classes of the community in
    the South. Eventually, in the year 1869, the movement
    rather suddenly collapsed, although there have been spo-
    radic outbreaks of the same sort since that date.

  "You will observe," said Holmes, laying down the volume,
"that the sudden breaking up of the society was coincident with
the disappearance of Openshaw from America with their papers.
It may well have been cause and effect. It is no wonder that he
and his family have some of the more implacable spirits upon
their track. You can understand that this register and diary may
implicate some of the first men in the South, and that there may
be many who will not sleep easy at night until it is recovered."
  "Then the page we have seen --"
  "Is such as we might expect. It ran, if I remember right, 'sent
the pips to A, B, and C' -- that is, sent the society's warning to
them. Then there are successive entries that A and B cleared, or
left the country, and finally that C was visited, with, I fear, a
sinister result for C. Well, I think, Doctor, that we may let some
light into this dark place, and I believe that the only chance
young Openshaw has in the meantime is to do what I have told
him. There is nothing more to be said or to be done to-night, so
hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour
the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our

  It had cleared in the morning, and the sun was shining with a
subdued brightness through the dim veil which hangs over the
great city. Sherlock Holmes was already at breakfast when I
came down.
  "You will excuse me for not waiting for you," said he; "I
have, I foresee, a very busy day before me in looking into this
case of young Openshaw's."
  "What steps will you take?" I asked.
  "It will very much depend upon the results of my first inquir-
ies. I may have to go down to Horsham, after all."
  "You will not go there first?"
  "No, I shall commence with the City. Just ring the bell and
the maid will bring up your coffee."
  As I waited, I lifted the unopened newspaper from the table
and glanced my eye over it. It rested upon a heading which sent
a chill to my heart.
  "Holmes," I cried, "you are too late."
  "Ah!" said he, laying down his cup, "I feared as much. How
was it done?" He spoke calmly, but I could see that he was
deeply moved.
  "My eye caught the name of Openshaw, and the heading
'Tragedy Near Waterloo Bridge.' Here is the account:

      "Between nine and ten last night Police-Constable Cook,
    of the H Division, on duty near Waterloo Bridge, heard a
    cry for help and a splash in the water. The night, however,
    was extremely dark and stormy, so that, in spite of the help
    of several passers-by, it was quite impossible to effect a
    rescue. The alarm, however, was given, and, by the aid of
    the water-police, the body was eventually recovered. It
    proved to be that of a young gentleman whose name, as it
    appears from an envelope which was found in his pocket,
    was John Openshaw, and whose residence is near Horsham.
    It is conjectured that he may have been hurrying down to
    catch the last train from Waterloo Station, and that in his
    haste and the extreme darkness he missed his path and
    walked over the edge of one of the small landing-places for
    river steamboats. The body exhibited no traces of violence,
    and there can be no doubt that the deceased had been the
    victim of an unfortunate accident, which should have the
    effect of calling the attention of the authorities to the condi-
    tion of the riverside landing-stages."

  We sat in silence for some minutes, Holmes more depressed
and shaken than I had ever seen him.
  "That hurts my pride, Watson," he said at last. "It is a petty
feeling, no doubt, but it hurts my pride. It becomes a personal
matter with me now, and, if God sends me health, I shall set my
hand upon this gang. That he should come to me for help, and
that I should send him away to his death --!" He sprang from his
chair and paced about the room in uncontrollable agitation, with
a flush upon his sallow cheeks and a nervous clasping and
unclasping of his long thin hands.
  "They must be cunning devils," he exclaimed at last. "How
could they have decoyed him down there? The Embankment is
not on the direct line to the station. The bridge, no doubt, was
too crowded, even on such a night, for their purpose. Well,
Watson, we shall see who will win in the long run. I am going
out now!"
  "To the police?"
  "No; I shall be my own police. When I have spun the web
they may take the flies, but not before."
  All day I was engaged in my professional work, and it was
late in the evening before I returned to Baker Street. Sherlock
Holmes had not come back yet. It was nearly ten o'clock before
he entered, looking pale and worn. He walked up to the side-
board, and tearing a piece from the loaf he devoured it vora-
ciously, washing it down with a long draught of water.
  "You are hungry," I remarked.
  "Starving. It had escaped my memory. I have had nothing
since breakfast."
  "Not a bite. I had no time to think of it."
  "And how have you succeeded?"
  "You have a clue?"
  "I have them in the hollow of my hand. Young Openshaw
shall not long remain unavenged. Why, Watson, let us put their
own devilish trade-mark upon them. It is well thought of!"
  "What do you mean?"
  He took an orange from the cupboard, and tearing it to pieces
he squeezed out the pips upon the table. Of these he took five
and thrust them into an envelope. On the inside of the flap he
wrote "S. H. for J. 0." Then he sealed it and addressed it to
"Captain James Calhoun, Bark Lone Star, Savannah, Georgia."
  "That will await him when he enters port," said he, chuck-
ling. "It may give him a sleepless night. He will find it as sure a
precursor of his fate as Openshaw did before him."
  "And who is this Captain Calhoun?"
  "The leader of the gang. I shall have the others, but he first."
  "How did you trace it, then?"
  He took a large sheet of paper from his pocket, all covered
with dates and names.
  "I have spent the whole day," said he, "over Lloyd's regis-
ters and files of the old papers, following the future career of
every vessel which touched at Pondicherry in January and Febru-
ary in '83. There were thirty-six ships of fair tonnage which
were reported there during those months. Of these, one, the Lone
Star, instantly attracted my attention, since, although it was
reported as having cleared from London, the name is that which
is given to one of the states of the Union."
  "Texas, I think."
  "I was not and am not sure which; but I knew that the ship
must have an American origin."
  "What then?"
  "I searched the Dundee records, and when I found that the
bark Lone Star was there in January, '85, my suspicion became a
certainty. I then inquired as to the vessels which lay at present in
the port of London."
  "The Lone Star had arrived here last week. I went down to
the Albert Dock and found that she had been taken down the
river by the early tide this morning, homeward bound to Savan-
nah. I wired to Gravesend and learned that she had passed some
time ago, and as the wind is easterly I have no doubt that she is
now past the Goodwins and not very far from the Isle of Wight."
  "What will you do, then?"
  "Oh, I have my hand upon him. He and the two mates, are
as I learn, the only native-born Americans in the ship. The others
are Finns and Germans. I know, also, that they were all three
away from the ship last night. I had it from the stevedore who
has been loading their cargo. By the time that their sailing-ship
reaches Savannah the mail-boat will have carried this letter, and
the cable will have informed the police of Savannah that these
three gentlemen are badly wanted here upon a charge of murder."
  There is ever a flaw, however, in the best laid of human plans,
and the murderers of John Openshaw were never to receive the
orange pips which would show them that another, as cunning
and as resolute as themselves, was upon their track. Very long
and very severe were the equinoctial gales that year. We waited
long for news of the Lone Star of Savannah, but none ever
reached us. We did at last hear that somewhere far out in the
Atlantic a shattered stern-post of the boat was seen swinging in
the trough of a wave, with the letters "L. S." carved upon it,
and that is all which we shall ever know of the fate of the Lone

               The Man with the Twisted Lip

  Isa Whitney, brother of the late Elias Whitney, D.D., Principal
of the Theological College of St. George's, was much addicted
to opium. The habit grew upon him, as I understand, from some
foolish freak when he was at college; for having read De Quincey's
description of his dreams and sensations, he had drenched his
tobacco with laudanum in an attempt to produce the same ef-
fects. He found, as so many more have done, that the practice is
easier to attain than to get rid of, and for many years he
continued to be a slave to the drug, an object of mingled horror
and pity to his friends and relatives. I can see him now, with
yellow, pasty face, drooping lids, and pin-point pupils, all hud-
dled in a chair, the wreck and ruin of a noble man.
  One night -- it was in June, '89 -- there came a ring to my bell,
about the hour when a man gives his first yawn and glances at
the clock. I sat up in my chair, and my wife laid her needle-work
down in her lap and made a little face of disappointment.
  "A patient!" said she. "You'll have to go out."
  I groaned, for I was newly come back from a weary day.
  We heard the door open, a few hurried words, and then quick
steps upon the linoleum. Our own door flew open, and a lady,
clad in some dark-coloured stuff, with a black veil, entered the
  "You will excuse my calling so late," she began, and then,
suddenly losing her self-control, she ran forward, threw her arms
about my wife's neck, and sobbed upon her shoulder. "Oh, I'm
in such trouble!" she cried; "I do so want a little help."
  "Why," said my wife, pulling up her veil, "it is Kate Whit-
ney. How you startled me, Kate! I had not an idea who you were
when you came in."
  "I didn't know what to do, so l came straight to you." That
was always the way. Folk who were in grief came to my wife
like birds to a light-house.
  "It was very sweet of you to come. Now, you must have
some wine and water, and sit here comfortably and tell us all
about it. Or should you rather that I sent James off to bed?"
  "Oh, no, no! I want the doctor's advice and help, too. It's
about Isa. He has not been home for two days. I am so fright-
ened about him!"
  It was not the first time that she had spoken to us of her
husband's trouble, to me as a doctor, to my wife as an old friend
and school companion. We soothed and comforted her by such
words as we could find. Did she know where her husband was?
Was it possible that we could bring him back to her?
  It seems that it was. She had the surest information that of late
he had, when the fit was on him, made use of an opium den in
the farthest east of the City. Hitherto his orgies had always been
confined to one day, and he had come back, twitching and
shattered, in the evening. But now the spell had been upon him
eight-and-forty hours, and he lay there, doubtless among the
dregs of the docks, breathing in the poison or sleeping off the
effects. There he was to be found, she was sure of it, at the Bar
of Gold, in Upper Swandam Lane. But what was she to do? How
could she, a young and timid woman, make her way into such a
place and pluck her husband out from among the ruffians who
surrounded him?
  There was the case, and of course there was but one way out
of it. Might I not escort her to this place? And then, as a second
thought, why should she come at all? I was Isa Whitney's
medical adviser, and as such I had influence over him. I could
manage it better if I were alone. I promised her on my word that
I would send him home in a cab within two hours if he were
indeed at the address which she had given me. And so in ten
minutes I had left my armchair and cheery sitting-room behind
me, and was speeding eastward in a hansom on a strange errand,
as it seemed to me at the time, though the future only could
show how strange it was to be.
  But there was no great difficulty in the first stage of my
adventure. Upper Swandam Lane is a vile alley lurking behind
the high wharves which line the north side of the river to the
east of London Bridge. Between a slop-shop and a gin-shop,
approached by a steep flight of steps leading down to a black gap
like the mouth of a cave, I found the den of which I was in
search. Ordering my cab to wait, I passed down the steps, worn
hollow in the centre by the ceaseless tread of drunken feet; and
by the light of a flickering oil-lamp above the door I found the
latch and made my way into a long, low room, thick and heavy
with the brown opium smoke, and terraced with wooden berths,
like the forecastle of an emigrant ship.
  Through the gloom one could dimly catch a glimpse of bodies
lying in strange fantastic poses, bowed shoulders, bent knees,
heads thrown back, and chins pointing upward, with here and
there a dark, lack-lustre eye turned upon the newcomer. Out of
the black shadows there glimmered little red circles of light,
now bright, now faint, as the burning poison waxed or waned in
the bowls of the metal pipes. The most lay silent, but some
muttered to themselves, and others talked together in a strange,
low, monotonous voice, their conversation coming in gushes,
and then suddenly tailing off into silence, each mumbling out
his own thoughts and paying little heed to the words of his
neighbour. At the farther end was a small brazier of burning
charcoal, beside which on a three-legged wooden stool there sat
a tall, thin old man, with his jaw resting upon his two fists, and
his elbows upon his knees, staring into the fire.
  As I entered, a sallow Malay attendant had hurried up with a
pipe for me and a supply of the drug, beckoning me to an empty
  "Thank you. I have not come to stay," said I. "There is a
friend of mine here, Mr. Isa Whitney, and I wish to speak with
  There was a movement and an exclamation from my right, and
peering through the gloom I saw Whitney, pale, haggard, and
unkempt, staring out at me.
  "My God! It's Watson," said he. He was in a pitiable state of
reaction, with every nerve in a twitter. "I say, Watson, what
o'clock is it?"
  "Nearly eleven."
  "Of what day?"
  "Of Friday, June 19th."
  "Good heavens! I thought it was Wednesday. It is Wednes-
day. What d'you want to frighten the chap for?" He sank his
face onto his arms and began to sob in a high treble key.
  "I tell you that it is Friday, man. Your wife has been waiting
this two days for you. You should be ashamed of yourself!"
  "So I am. But you've got mixed, Watson, for I have only
been here a few hours, three pipes, four pipes -- I forget how
many. But I'll go home with you. I wouldn't frighten Kate --
poor little Kate. Give me your hand! Have you a cab?"
  "Yes, I have one waiting."
  "Then I shall go in it. But I must owe something. Find what I
owe, Watson. I am all off colour. I can do nothing for myself."
  I walked down the narrow passage between the double row of
sleepers, holding my breath to keep out the vile, stupefying
fumes of the drug, and looking about for the manager. As I
passed the tall man who sat by the brazier I felt a sudden pluck at
my skirt, and a low voice whispered, "Walk past me, and then
look back at me." The words fell quite distinctly upon my ear. I
glanced down. They could only have come from the old man at
my side, and yet he sat now as absorbed as ever, very thin, very
wrinkled, bent with age, an opium pipe dangling down from
between his knees, as though it had dropped in sheer lassitude
from his fingers. I took two steps forward and looked back. It
took all my self-control to prevent me from breaking out into a
cry of astonishment. He had turned his back so that none could
see him but I. His form had filled out, his wrinkles were gone,
the dull eyes had regained their fire, and there, sitting by the fire
and grinning at my surprise, was none other than Sherlock
Holmes. He made a slight motion to me to approach him, and
instantly, as he turned his face half round to the company once
more, subsided into a doddering, loose-lipped senility.
  "Holmes!" I whispered, "what on earth are you doing in this
  "As low as you can," he answered; "I have excellent ears. If
you would have the great kindness to get rid of that sottish friend
of yours I should be exceedingly glad to have a little talk with
  "I have a cab outside."
  "Then pray send him home in it. You may safely trust him,
for he appears to be too limp to get into any mischief. I should
recommend you also to send a note by the cabman to your wife
to say that you have thrown in your lot with me. If you will wait
outside, I shall be with you in five minutes."
  It was difficult to refuse any of Sherlock Holmes's requests,
for they were always so exceedingly definite, and put forward
with such a quiet air of mastery. I felt, however, that when
Whitney was once confined in the cab my mission was practi-
cally accomplished; and for the rest, I could not wish anything
better than to be associated with my friend in one of those
singular adventures which were the normal condition of his
existence. In a few minutes I had written my note, paid Whit-
ney's bill, led him out to the cab, and seen him driven through
the darkness. In a very short time a decrepit figure had emerged
from the opium den, and I was walking down the street with
Sherlock Holmes. For two streets he shuffled along with a bent
back and an uncertain foot. Then, glancing quickly round, he
straightened himself out and burst into a hearty fit of laughter.
  "I suppose, Watson," said he, "that you imagine that I have
added opium-smoking to cocaine injections, and all the other little
weaknesses on which you have favoured me with your medical
  "I was certainly surprised to find you there."
  "But not more so than I to find you."
  "I came to find a friend."
  "And I to find an enemy."
  "An enemy?"
  "Yes; one of my natural enemies, or, shall I say, my natural
prey. Briefly, Watson, I am in the midst of a very remarkable
inquiry, and I have hoped to find a clue in the incoherent
ramblings of these sots, as I have done before now. Had I been
recognized in that den my life would not have been worth an
hour's purchase; for I have used it before now for my own
purposes, and the rascally lascar who runs it has sworn to have
vengeance upon me. There is a trap-door at the back of that
building, near the corner of Paul's Wharf, which could tell some
strange tales of what has passed through it upon the moonless
  "What! You do not mean bodies?"
  "Ay, bodies, Watson. We should be rich men if we had
1000 pounds for every poor devil who has been done to death in that
den. It is the vilest murder-trap on the whole riverside, and I fear
that Neville St. Clair has entered it never to leave it more. But
our trap should be here." He put his two forefingers between his
teeth and whistled shrilly -- a signal which was answered by a
similar whistle from the distance, followed shortly by the rattle
of wheels and the clink of horses' hoofs.
  "Now, Watson," said Holmes, as a tall dog-cart dashed up
through the gloom, throwing out two golden tunnels of yellow
light from its side lanterns. "You'll come with me, won't you?
  "If I can be of use."
  "Oh, a trusty comrade is always of use; and a chronicler still
more so. My room at The Cedars is a double-bedded one."
  "The Cedars?"
  "Yes; that is Mr. St. Clair's house. I am staying there while I
conduct the inquiry."
  "Where is it, then?"
  "Near Lee, in Kent. We have a seven-mile drive before us."
  "But I am all in the dark."
  "Of course you are. You'll know all about it presently. Jump
up here. All right, John; we shall not need you. Here's half a
crown. Look out for me to-morrow, about eleven. Give her her
head. So long, then!"
  He flicked the horse with his whip, and we dashed away
through the endless succession of sombre and deserted streets,
which widened gradually, until we were flying across a broad
balustraded bridge, with the murky river flowing sluggishly be-
neath us. Beyond lay another dull wilderness of bricks and
mortar, its silence broken only by the heavy, regular footfall of
the policeman, or the songs and shouts of some belated party of
revellers. A dull wrack was drifting slowly across the sky, and a
star or two twinkled dimly here and there through the rifts of the
clouds. Holmes drove in silence, with his head sunk upon his
breast, and the air of a man who is lost in thought, while I sat
beside him, curious to learn what this new quest might be which
seemed to tax his powers so sorely, and yet afraid to break in
upon the current of his thoughts. We had driven several miles,
and were beginning to get to the fringe of the belt of suburban
villas, when he shook himself, shrugged his shoulders, and lit
up his pipe with the air of a man who has satisfied himself that
he is acting for the best.
  "You have a grand gift of silence, Watson," said he. "It
makes you quite invaluable as a companion. 'Pon my word, it is
a great thing for me to have someone to talk to, for my own
thoughts are not over-pleasant. I was wondering what I should
say to this dear little woman to-night when she meets me at the
  "You forget that I know nothing about it."
  "I shall just have time to tell you the facts of the case before
we get to Lee. It seems absurdly simple, and yet, somehow I
can get nothing to go upon. There's plenty of thread, no doubt,
but I can't get the end of it into my hand. Now, I'll state the case
clearly and concisely to you, Watson, and maybe you can see a
spark where all is dark to me."
  "Proceed, then."
  "Some years ago -- to be definite, in May, 1884 -- there came
to Lee a gentleman, Neville St. Clair by name, who appeared to
have plenty of money. He took a large villa, laid out the grounds
very nicely, and lived generally in good style. By degrees he
made friends in the neighbourhood, and in 1887 he married the
daughter of a local brewer, by whom he now has two children.
He had no occupation, but was interested in several companies
and went into town as a rule in the morning, returning by the
5:14 from Cannon Street every night. Mr. St. Clair is now
thirty-seven years of age, is a man of temperate habits, a good
husband, a very affectionate father, and a man who is popular
with all who know him. I may add that his whole debts at the
present moment, as far as we have been able to ascertain
amount to 88 pounds lOs., while he has 220 pounds standing to his credit in
the Capital and Counties Bank. There is no reason, therefore, to
think that money troubles have been weighing upon his mind.
  "Last Monday Mr. Neville St. Clair went into town rather
earlier than usual, remarking before he started that he had two
important commissions to perform, and that he would bring his
little boy home a box of bricks. Now, by the merest chance, his
wife received a telegram upon this same Monday, very shortly
after his departure, to the effect that a small parcel of consider-
able value which she had been expecting was waiting for her at
the offices of the Aberdeen Shipping Company. Now, if you are
well up in your London, you will know that the office of the
company is in Fresno Street, which branches out of Upper
Swandam Lane, where you found me to-night. Mrs. St. Clair
had her lunch, started for the City, did some shopping, pro-
ceeded to the company's office, got her packet, and found
herself at exactly 4:35 walking through Swandam Lane on her
way back to the station. Have you followed me so far?"
  "It is very clear."
  "lf you remember, Monday was an exceedingly hot day, and
Mrs. St. Clair walked slowly, glancing about in the hope of
seeing a cab, as she did not like the neighbourhood in which she
found herself. While she was walking in this way down Swandam
Lane, she suddenly heard an ejaculation or cry, and was struck
cold to see her husband looking down at her and, as it seemed to
her, beckoning to her from a second-floor window. The window
was open, and she distinctly saw his face, which she describes as
being terribly agitated. He waved his hands frantically to her,
and then vanished from the window so suddenly that it seemed to
her that he had been plucked back by some irresistible force from
behind. One singular point which struck her quick feminine eye
was that although he wore some dark coat, such as he had started
to town in, he had on neither collar nor necktie.
  "Convinced that something was amiss with him, she rushed
down the steps -- for the house was none other than the opium den
in which you found me to-night -- and running through the front
room she attempted to ascend the stairs which led to the first
floor. At the foot of the stairs, however, she met this lascar
scoundrel of whom I have spoken, who thrust her back and,
aided by a Dane, who acts as assistant there, pushed her out into
the street. Filled with the most maddening doubts and fears, she
rushed down the lane and, by rare good-fortune, met in Fresno
Street a number of constables with an inspector, all on their way
to their beat. The inspector and two men accompanied her back,
and in spite of the continued resistance of the proprietor, they
made their way to the room in which Mr. St. Clair had last been
seen. There was no sign of him there. In fact, in the whole of
that floor there was no one to be found save a crippled wretch of
hideous aspect, who, it seems, made his home there. Both he
and the lascar stoutly swore that no one else had been in the front
room during the afternoon. So determined was their denial that
the inspector was staggered, and had almost come to believe that
Mrs. St. Clair had been deluded when, with a cry, she sprang at
a small deal box which lay upon the table and tore the lid from
it. Out there fell a cascade of children's bricks. It was the toy
which he had promised to bring home.
  "This discovery, and the evident confusion which the cripple
showed, made the inspector realize that the matter was serious.
The rooms were carefully examined, and results all pointed to an
abominable crime. The front room was plainly furnished as a
sitting-room and led into a small bedroom, which looked out
upon the back of one of the wharves. Between the wharf and the
bedroom window is a narrow strip, which is dry at low tide but
is covered at high tide with at least four and a half feet of water.
The bedroom window was a broad one and opened from below.
On examination traces of blood were to be seen upon the window-
sill, and several scattered drops were visible upon the wooden
floor of the bedroom. Thrust away behind a curtain in the front
room were all the clothes of Mr. Neville St. Clair, with the
exception of his coat. His boots, his socks, his hat, and his
watch -- all were there. There were no signs of violence upon any
of these garments, and there were no other traces of Mr. Neville
St. Clair. Out of the window he must apparently have gone for
no other exit could be discovered, and the ominous bloodstains
upon the sill gave little promise that he could save himself by
swimming, for the tide was at its very highest at the moment of
the tragedy.
  "And now as to the villains who seemed to be immedlately
implicated in the matter. The lascar was known to be a man of
the vilest antecedents, but as, by Mrs. St. Clair's story, he was
known to have been at the foot of the stair within a very few
seconds of her husband's appearance at the window, he could
hardly have been more than an accessory to the crime. His
defense was one of absolute ignorance, and he protested that he
had no knowledge as to the doings of Hugh Boone, his lodger,
and that he could not account in any way for the presence of the
missing gentleman's clothes.
  "So much for the lascar manager. Now for the sinister cripple
who lives upon the second floor of the opium den, and who was
certainly the last human being whose eyes rested upon Neville
St. Clair. His name is Hugh Boone, and his hideous face is one
which is familiar to every man who goes much to the City. He is
a professional beggar, though in order to avoid the police regula-
tions he pretends to a small trade in wax vestas. Some little
distance down Threadneedle Street. upon the left-hand side,
there is, as you may have remarked, a small angle in the wall.
Here it is that this creature takes his daily seat, cross-legged
with his tiny stock of matches on his lap, and as he is a piteous
spectacle a small rain of charity descends into the greasy leather
cap which lies upon the pavement beside him. I have watched
the fellow more than once before ever I thought of making his
professional acquaintance, and I have been surprised at the har-
vest which he has reaped in a short time. His appearance, you
see, is so remarkable that no one can pass him without observing
him. A shock of orange hair, a pale face disfigured by a horrible
scar, which, by its contraction, has turned up the outer edge of
his upper lip, a bulldog chin, and a pair of very penetrating dark
eyes, which present a singular contrast to the colour of his hair,
all mark him out from amid the common crowd of mendicants
and so, too, does his wit, for he is ever ready with a reply to any
piece of chaff which may be thrown at him by the passers-by.
This is the man whom we now learn to have been the lodger at
the opium den, and to have been the last man to see the
gentleman of whom we are in quest."
  "But a cripple!" said I. "What could he have done single-
handed against a man in the prime of life?"
  "He is a cripple in the sense that he walks with a limp; but in
other respects he appears to be a powerful and well-nurtured
man. Surely your medical experience would tell you, Watson,
that weakness in one limb is often compensated for by excep-
tional strength in the others."
  "Pray continue your narrative."
  "Mrs. St. Clair had fainted at the sight of the blood upon the
window, and she was escorted home in a cab by the police, as
her presence could be of no help to them in their investigations.
Inspector Barton, who had charge of the case, made a very
careful examination of the premises, but without finding any-
thing which threw any light upon the matter. One mistake had
been made in not arresting Boone instantly, as he was allowed
some few minutes during which he might have communicated
with his friend the lascar, but this fault was soon remedied, and
he was seized and searched, without anything being found which
could incriminate him. There were, it is true, some blood-stains
upon his right shirt-sleeve, but he pointed to his ring-finger,
which had been cut near the nail, and explained that the bleeding
came from there, adding that he had been to the window not long
before, and that the stains which had been observed there came
doubtless from the same source. He denied strenuously having
ever seen Mr. Neville St. Clair and swore that the presence of
the clothes in his room was as much a mystery to him as to the
police. As to Mrs. St. Clair's assertion that she had actually seen
her husband at the window, he declared that she must have been
either mad or dreaming. He was removed, loudly protesting, to
the police-station, while the inspector remained upon the prem-
ises in the hope that the ebbing tide might afford some fresh
  "And it did, though they hardly found upon the mud-bank
what they had feared to find. It was Neville St. Clair's coat, and
not Neville St. Clair, which lay uncovered as the tide receded.
And what do you think they found in the pockets?"
  "I cannot imagine."
  "No, I don't think you would guess. Every pocket stuffed
with pennies and half-pennies  -- 421 pennies and 270 half-pennies.
It was no wonder that it had not been swept away by the tide.
But a human body is a different matter. There is a fierce eddy
between the wharf and the house. It seemed likely enough that
the weighted coat had remained when the stripped body had been
sucked away into the river."
  "But I understand that all the other clothes were found in the
room. Would the body be dressed in a coat alone?"
  "No, sir, but the facts might be met speciously enough.
Suppose that this man Boone had thrust Neville St. Clair through
the window, there is no human eye which could have seen the
deed. What would he do then? It would of course instantly strike
him that he must get rid of the tell-tale garments. He would seize
the coat, then, and be in the act of throwing it out, when it
would occur to him that it would swim and not sink. He has little
time, for he has heard the scuffle downstairs when the wife tried
to force her way up, and perhaps he has already heard from his
lascar confederate that the police are hurrying up the street.
There is not an instant to be lost. He rushes to some secret
hoard, where he has accumulated the fruits of his beggary, and
he stuffs all the coins upon which he can lay his hands into the
pockets to make sure of the coat's sinking. He throws it out, and
would have done the same with the other garments had not he
heard the rush of steps below, and only just had time to close the
window when the police appeared."
  "It certainly sounds feasible."
  "Well, we will take it as a working hypothesis for want of a
better. Boone, as I have told you, was arrested and taken to the
station, but it could not be shown that there had ever before been
anything against him. He had for years been known as a profes-
sional beggar, but his life appeared to have been a very quiet and
innocent one. There the matter stands at present, and the ques-
tions which have to be solved -- what Neville St. Clair was doing
in the opium den, what happened to him when there, where is he
now, and what Hugh Boone had to do with his disappearance --
are all as far from a solution as ever. I confess that I cannot
recall any case within my experience which looked at the first
glance so simple and yet which presented such difficulties."
  While Sherlock Holmes had been detailing this singular se-
ries of events, we had been whirling through the outskirts of the
great town until the last straggling houses had been left behind,
and we rattled along with a country hedge upon either side of us.
Just as he finished, however, we drove through two scattered
villages, where a few lights still glimmered in the windows.
  "We are on the outskirts of Lee," said my companion. "We
have touched on three English counties in our short drive. start-
ing in Middlesex, passing over an angle of Surrey, and ending in
Kent. See that light among the trees? That is The Cedars, and
beside that lamp sits a woman whose anxious ears have already,
I have little doubt, caught the clink of our horse's feet."
  "But why are you not conducting the case from Baker Street?"
I asked.
  "Because there are many inquiries which must be made out
here. Mrs. St. Clair has most kindly put two rooms at my
disposal, and you may rest assured that she will have nothing but
a welcome for my friend and colleague. I hate to meet her,
Watson, when I have no news of her husband. Here we are.
Whoa, there, whoa!"
  We had pulled up in front of a large villa which stood within
its own grounds. A stable-boy had run out to the horse's head,
and springing down I followed Holmes up the small, winding
gravel-drive which led to the house. As we approached, the door
flew open, and a little blonde woman stood in the opening, clad
in some sort of light mousseline de soie, with a touch of fluffy
pink chiffon at her neck and wrists. She stood with her figure
outlined against the flood of light, one hand upon the door, one
half-raised in her eagerness, her body slightly bent, her head and
face protruded, with eager eyes and parted lips, a standing
  "Well?" she cried, "well?" And then, seeing that there were
two of us, she gave a cry of hope which sank into a groan as she
saw that my companion shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.
  "No good news?"
  "No bad?"
  "Thank God for that. But come in. You must be weary, for
you have had a long day."
  "This is my friend, Dr. Watson. He has been of most vital use
to me in several of my cases, and a lucky chance has made it
possible for me to bring him out and associate him with this
  "I am delighted to see you," said she, pressing my hand
warmly. "You will, I am sure, forgive anything that may be
wanting in our arrangements, when you consider the blow which
has come so suddenly upon us."
  "My dear madam," said I, "I am an old campaigner, and if I
were not I can very well see that no apology is needed. If I can
be of any assistance, either to you or to my friend here, I shall be
indeed happy."
  "Now, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said the lady as we entered a
well-lit dining-room, upon the table of which a cold supper had
been laid out, "I should very much like to ask you one or two
plain questions, to which I beg that you will give a plain
  "Certainly, madam."
  "Do not trouble about my feelings. I am not hysterical, nor
given to fainting. I simply wish to hear your real, real opinion."
  "Upon what point?"
  "In your heart of hearts, do you think that Neville is alive?"
  Sherlock Holmes seemed to be embarrassed by the question.
"Frankly, now!" she repeated, standing upon the rug and look-
ing keenly down at him as he leaned back in a basket-chair.
  "Frankly, then, madam, I do not."
  "You think that he is dead?"
  "I do."
  "I don't say that. Perhaps."
  "And on what day did he meet his death?"
  "On Monday."
  "Then perhaps, Mr. Holmes, you will be good enough to
explain how it is that I have received a letter from him to-day."
  Sherlock Holmes sprang out of his chair as if he had been
  "What!" he roared.
  "Yes, to-day." She stood smiling, holding up a little slip of
paper in the air.
  "May I see it?"
  He snatched it from her in his eagerness, and smoothing it out
upon the table he drew over the lamp and examined it intently. I
had left my chair and was gazing at it over his shoulder. The
envelope was a very coarse one and was stamped with the
Gravesend postmark and with the date of that very day, or rather
of the day before, for it was considerably after midnight.
  "Coarse writing," murmured Holmes. "Surely this is not
your husband's writing, madam."
  "No, but the enclosure is."
  "I perceive also that whoever addressed the envelope had to
go and inquire as to the address."
  "How can you tell that?"
  "The name, you see, is in perfectly black ink, which has dried
itself. The rest is of the grayish colour, which shows that blotting-
paper has been used. If it had been written straight off, and then
blotted, none would be of a deep black shade. This man has
written the name, and there has then been a pause before he
wrote the address, which can only mean that he was not familiar
with it. It is, of course, a trifle, but there is nothing so important
as trifles. Let us now see the letter. Ha! there has been an
enclosure here!"
  "Yes, there was a ring. His signet-ring."
  "And you are sure that this is your husband's hand?"
  "One of his hands."
  "His hand when he wrote hurriedly. It is very unlike his usual
writing, and yet I know it well."

       "Dearest do not be frightened. All will come well. There
    is a huge error which it may take some little time to rectify.
    Wait in patience.

Written in pencil upon the fly-leaf of a book, octavo size, no
water-mark. Hum! Posted to-day in Gravesend by a man with a
dirty thumb. Ha! And the flap has been gummed, if I am not
very much in error, by a person who had been chewing tobacco.
And you have no doubt that it is your husband's hand, madam?"
  "None. Neville wrote those words."
  "And they were posted to-day at Gravesend. Well, Mrs. St.
Clair, the clouds lighten, though I should not venture to say that
the danger is over."
  "But he must be alive, Mr. Holmes."
  "Unless this is a clever forgery to put us on the wrong scent.
The ring, after all, proves nothing. It may have been taken from
  "No, no; it is, it is his very own writing!"
  "Very well. It may, however, have been written on Monday
and only posted to-day."
  "That is possible."
  "If so, much may have happened between."
  "Oh, you must not discourage me, Mr. Holmes. I know that
all is well with him. There is so keen a sympathy between us that
I should know if evil came upon him. On the very day that I saw
him last he cut himself in the bedroom, and yet I in the dining-
room rushed upstairs instantly with the utmost certainty that
something had happened. Do you think that I would respond to
such a trifle and yet be ignorant of his death?"
  "I have seen too much not to know that the impression of a
woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analyti-
cal reasoner. And in this letter you certainly have a very strong
piece of evidence to corroborate your view. But if your husband
is alive and able to write letters, why should he remain away
from you?"
  "I cannot imagine. It is unthinkable."
  "And on Monday he made no remarks before leaving you?"
  "And you were surprised to see him in Swandam Lane?"
  "Very much so."
  "Was the window open?"
  "Then he might have called to you?"
  "He might."
  "He only, as I understand, gave an inarticulate cry?"
  "A call for help, you thought?"
  "Yes. He waved his hands."
  "But it might have been a cry of surprise. Astonishment at the
unexpected sight of you might cause him to throw up his hands?"
  "It is possible."
  "And you thought he was pulled back?"
  "He disappeared so suddenly."
  "He might have leaped back. You did not see anyone else in
the room?"
  "No, but this horrible man confessed to having been there,
and the lascar was at the foot of the stairs."
  "Quite so. Your husband, as far as you could see, had his
ordinary clothes on?"
  "But without his collar or tie. I distinctly saw his bare throat."
  "Had he ever spoken of Swandam Lane?"
  "Had he ever showed any signs of having taken opium?"
  "Thank you, Mrs. St. Clair. Those are the principal points
about which I wished to be absolutely clear. We shall now have
a little supper and then retire, for we may have a very busy day
  A large and comfortable double-bedded room had been placed
at our disposal, and I was quickly between the sheets, for I was
weary after my night of adventure. Sherlock Holmes was a man,
however, who, when he had an unsolved problem upon his
mind, would go for days, and even for a week, without rest,
turning it over, rearranging his facts, looking at it from every
point of view until he had either fathomed it or convinced
himself that his data were insufficient. It was soon evident to me
that he was now preparing for an all-night sitting. He took off his
coat and waistcoat, put on a large blue dressing-gown, and then
wandered about the room collecting pillows from his bed and
cushions from the sofa and armchairs. With these he constructed
a sort of Eastern divan, upon which he perched himself cross-
legged, with an ounce of shag tobacco and a box of matches laid
out in front of him. In the dim light of the lamp I saw him sitting
there, an old briar pipe between his lips, his eyes fixed vacantly
upon the corner of the ceiling, the blue smoke curling up from
him, silent, motionless, with the light shining upon his strong-set
aquiline features. So he sat as I dropped off to sleep, and so he
sat when a sudden ejaculation caused me to wake up, and I
found the summer sun shining into the apartment. The pipe was
still between his lips, the smoke still curled upward, and the
room was full of a dense tobacco haze, but nothing remained of
the heap of shag which I had seen upon the previous night.
  "Awake, Watson?" he asked.
  "Game for a morning drive?"
  "Then dress. No one is stirring yet, but I know where the
stable-boy sleeps, and we shall soon have the trap out." He
chuckled to himself as he spoke, his eyes twinkled, and he
seemed a different man to the sombre thinker of the previous
  As I dressed I glanced at my watch. It was no wonder that no
one was stirring. It was twenty-five minutes past four. I had
hardly finished when Holmes returned with the news that the boy
was putting in the horse.
  "I want to test a little theory of mine," said he, pulling on his
boots. "I think, Watson, that you are now standing in the
presence of one of the most absolute fools in Europe. I deserve
to be kicked from here to Charing Cross. But I think I have the
key of the affair now."
  "And where is it?" I asked, smiling.
  "In the bathroom," he answered. "Oh, yes, I am not jok-
ing," he continued, seeing my look of incredulity. "I have just
been there, and I have taken it out, and I have got it in this
Gladstone bag. Come on, my boy, and we shall see whether it
will not fit the lock."
  We made our way downstairs as quietly as possible, and out
into the bright morning sunshine. In the road stood our horse and
trap, with the half-clad stable-boy waiting at the head. We both
sprang in, and away we dashed down the London Road. A few
country carts were stirring, bearing in vegetables to the metropo-
lis, but the lines of villas on either side were as silent and lifeless
as some city in a dream.
  "It has been in some points a singular case," said Holmes,
flicking the horse on into a gallop. "I confess that I have been as
blind as a mole, but it is better to learn wisdom late than never
to learn it at all."
  In town the earliest risers were just beginning to look sleepily
from their windows as we drove through the streets of the Surrey
side. Passing down the Waterloo Bridge Road we crossed over
the river, and dashing up Wellington Street wheeled sharply to
the right and found ourselves in Bow Street. Sherlock Holmes
was well known to the force, and the two constables at the door
saluted him. One of them held the horse's head while the other
led us in.
  "Who is on duty?" asked Holmes.
  "Inspector Bradstreet, sir."
  "Ah, Bradstreet, how are you?" A tall, stout official had come
down the stone-flagged passage, in a peaked cap and frogged
jacket. "I wish to have a quiet word with you, Bradstreet."
"Certainly, Mr. Holmes. Step into my room here."
It was a small, office-like room, with a huge ledger upon the
table, and a telephone projecting from the wall. The inspector
sat down at his desk.
  "What can I do for you, Mr. Holmes?"
  "I called about that beggarman, Boone -- the one who was
charged with being concerned in the disappearance of Mr. Neville
St. Clair, of Lee."
  "Yes. He was brought up and remanded for further inquiries."
  "So I heard. You have him here?"
  "In the cells."
  "Is he quiet?"
  "Oh, he gives no trouble. But he is a dirty scoundrel."
  "Yes, it is all we can do to make him wash his hands, and his
face is as black as a tinker's. Well, when once his case has been
settled, he will have a regular prison bath; and I think, if you
saw him, you would agree with me that he needed it."
  "I should like to see him very much."
  "Would you? That is easily done. Come this way. You can
leave your bag."
  "No, I think that I'll take it."
  "Very good. Come this way, if you please." He led us down a
passage, opened a barred door, passed down a winding stair, and
brought us to a whitewashed corridor with a line of doors on
each side.
  "The third on the right is his," said the inspector. "Here it
is!" He quietly shot back a panel in the upper part of the door
and glanced through.
  "He is asleep," said he. "You can see him very well."
  We both put our eyes to the grating. The prisoner lay with his
face towards us, in a very deep sleep, breathing slowly and
heavily. He was a middle-sized man, coarsely clad as became his
calling, with a coloured shirt protruding through the rent in his
tattered coat. He was, as the inspector had said, extremely dirty,
but the grime which covered his face could not conceal its
repulsive ugliness. A broad wheal from an old scar ran right
across it from eye to chin, and by its contraction had turned up
one side of the upper lip, so that three teeth were exposed in a
perpetual snarl. A shock of very bright red hair grew low over
his eyes and forehead.
  "He's a beauty, isn't he?" said the inspector.
  "He certainly needs a wash," remarked Holmes. "I had an
idea that he might, and I took the liberty of bringing the tools
with me." He opened the Gladstone bag as he spoke, and took
out, to my astonishment, a very large bath-sponge.
  "He! he! You are a funny one," chuckled the inspector.
  "Now, if you will have the great goodness to open that door
very quietly, we will soon make him cut a much more respect-
able figure."
  "Well, I don't know why not," said the inspector. "He
doesn't look a credit to the Bow Street cells, does he?" He
slipped his key into the lock, and we all very quietly entered the
cell. The sleeper half turned, and then settled down once more
into a deep slumber. Holmes stooped to the waterjug, moistened
his sponge, and then rubbed it twice vigorously across and down
the prisoner's face.
  "Let me introduce you," he shouted, "to Mr. Neville St.
Clair, of Lee, in the county of Kent."
  Never in my life have I seen such a sight. The man's face
peeled off under the sponge like the bark from a tree. Gone was
the coarse brown tint! Gone, too, was the horrid scar which had
seamed it across, and the twisted lip which had given the repul-
sive sneer to the face! A twitch brought away the tangled red
hair, and there, sitting up in his bed, was a pale, sad-faced,
refined-looking man, black-haired and smooth-skinned, rubbing
his eyes and staring about him with sleepy bewilderment. Then
suddenly realizing the exposure, he broke into a scream and
threw himself down with his face to the pillow.
  "Great heavens!" cried the inspector, "it is, indeed, the
missing man. I know him from the photograph."
  The prisoner turned with the reckless air of a man who aban-
dons himself to his destiny. "Be it so," said he. "And pray
what am I charged with?"
  "With making away with Mr. Neville St. Oh, come, you
can't be charged with that unless they make a case of attempted
suicide of it," said the inspector with a grin. "Well, I have been
twenty-seven years in the force, but this really takes the cake."
  "If I am Mr. Neville St. Clair, then it is obvious that no crime
has been committed, and that, therefore, I am illegally detained."
  "No crime, but a very great error has been committed," said
Holmes. "You would have done better to have trusted you
  "It was not the wife; it was the children," groaned the
prisoner. "God help me, I would not have them ashamed of their
father. My God! What an exposure! What can I do?"
  Sherlock Holmes sat down beside him on the couch and patted
him kindly on the shoulder.
  "If you leave it to a court of law to clear the matter up," said
he, "of course you can hardly avoid publicity. On the other
hand, if you convince the police authorities that there is no
possible case against you, I do not know that there is any reasoa
that the details should find their way into the papers. Inspector
Bradstreet would, I am sure, make notes upon anything which
you might tell us and submit it to the proper authorities. The case
would then never go into court at all."
  "God bless you!" cried the prisoner passionately. "I would
have endured imprisonment, ay, even execution, rather than
have left my miserable secret as a family blot to my children.
  "You are the first who have ever heard my story. My father
was a school-master in Chesterfield, where I received an excel-:
lent education. I travelled in my youth, took to the stage, and
finally became a reporter on an evening paper in London. One
day my editor wished to have a series of articles upon begging in
the metropolis, and I volunteered to supply them. There was the
point from which all my adventures started. It was only by trying
begging as an amateur that I could get the facts upon which to
base my articles. When an actor I had, of course, learned all the
secrets of making up, and had been famous in the green-room for
my skill. I took advantage now of my attainments. I painted my
face, and to make myself as pitiable as possible I made a good
scar and fixed one side of my lip in a twist by the aid of a small
slip of flesh-coloured plaster. Then with a red head of hair, and
an appropriate dress, I took my station in the business part of the
city, ostensibly as a match-seller but really as a beggar. For
seven hours I plied my trade, and when I returned home in the
evening I found to my surprise that I had received no less than
26s. 4d.
  "I wrote my articles and thought little more of the matter
until, some time later, I backed a bill for a friend and had a writ
served upon me for 25 pounds. I was at my wit's end where to get the
money, but a sudden idea came to me. I begged a fortnight's
grace from the creditor, asked for a holiday from my employers,
and spent the time in begging in the City under my disguise. In
ten days I had the money and had paid the debt.
  "Well, you can imagine how hard it was to settle down to
arduous work at 2 pounds a week when I knew that I could earn as
much in a day by smearing my face with a little paint, laying my
cap on the ground, and sitting still. It was a long fight between
my pride and the money, but the dollars won at last, and I threw
up reporting and sat day after day in the corner which I had first
chosen, inspiring pity by my ghastly face and filling my pockets
with coppers. Only one man knew my secret. He was the keeper
of a low den in which I used to lodge in Swandam Lane, where I
could every morning emerge as a squalid beggar and in the
evenings transform myself into a well-dressed man about town.
This fellow, a lascar, was well paid by me for his rooms, so that
I knew that my secret was safe in his possession.
  "Well, very soon I found that I was saving considerable sums
of money. I do not mean that any beggar in the streets of London
could earn 700 pounds a year -- which is less than my average takings --
but I had exceptional advantages in my power of making up, and
also in a facility of repartee, which improved by practice and
made me quite a recognized character in the City. All day a
stream of pennies, varied by silver, poured in upon me, and it
was a very bad day in which I failed to take 2 pounds.
  "As I grew richer I grew more ambitious, took a house in the
country, and eventually married, without anyone having a suspi-
cion as to my real occupation. My dear wife knew that I had
business in the City. She little knew what.
  "Last Monday I had finished for the day and was dressing in
my room above the opium den when I looked out of my window
and saw, to my horror and astonishment, that my wife was
standing in the street, with her eyes fixed full upon me. I gave a
cry of surprise, threw up my arms to cover my face, and, rushing
to my confidant, the lascar, entreated him to prevent anyone
from coming up to me. I heard her voice downstairs, but I knew
that she could not ascend. Swiftly I threw off my clothes, pulled
on those of a beggar, and put on my pigments and wig. Even a
wife's eyes could not pierce so complete a disguise. But then it
occurred to me that there might be a search in the room, and that
the clothes might betray me. I threw open the window, reopen-
ing by my violence a small cut which I had inflicted upon myself
in the bedroom that morning. Then I seized my coat, which was
weighted by the coppers which I had just transferred to it from
the leather bag in which I carried my takings. I hurled it out of
the window, and it disappered into the Thames. The other
clothes would have followed, but at that moment there was a
rush of constables up the stair, and a few minutes after I found,
rather, I confess, to my relief, that instead of being identified as
Mr. Neville St. Clair, I was arrested as his murderer.
  "I do not know that there is anything else for me to explain. I
was determined to preserve my disguise as long as possible, and
hence my preference for a dirty face. Knowing that my wife
would be terribly anxious, I slipped off my ring and confided it
to the lascar at a moment when no constable was watching me,
together with a hurried scrawl, telling her that she had no cause
to fear."
  "That note only reached her yesterday," said Holmes.
  "Good God! What a week she must have spent!"
  "The police have watched this lascar," said Inspector Brad-
street, "and I can quite understand that he might find it difficult
to post a letter unobserved. Probably he handed it to some sailor
customer of his, who forgot all about it for some days."
  "That was it," said Holmes, nodding approvingly; "I have no
doubt of it. But have you never been prosecuted for begging?"
  "Many times; but what was a fine to me?"
  "It must stop here, however," said Bradstreet. "If the police
are to hush this thing up, there must be no more of Hugh
  "I have sworn it by the most solemn oaths which a man can
  "In that case I think that it is probable that no further steps
may be taken. But if you are found again, then all must come
out. I am sure, Mr. Holmes, that we are very moch indebted to
you for having cleared the matter up. I wish I knew how you
reach your results."
  "I reached this one," said my friend, "by sitting upon five
pillows and consuming an ounce of shag. I think, Watson, that if
we drive to Baker Street we shall just be in time for breakfast."

            The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

  I had called upon my friend Sherlock Holrnes upon the
second morning after Christmas, with the intention of wishing
him the compliments of the season. He was lounging upon the
sofa in a purple dressing-gown, a pipe-rack within his reach
upon the right, and a pile of crumpled morning papers, evidently
newly studied, near at hand. Beside the couch was a wooden
chair, and on the angle of the back hung a very seedy and
disreputable hard-felt hat, much the worse for wear, and cracked
in several places. A lens and a forceps lying upon the seat of the
chair suggested that the hat had been suspended in this manner
for the purpose of examination.
  "You are engaged," said l; "perhaps I interrupt you."
  "Not at all. I am glad to have a friend with whom I can
discuss my results. The matter is a perfectly trivial one" -- he
jerked his thumb in the direction of the old hat -- "but there are
points in connection with it which are not entirely devoid of
interest and even of instruction."
  I seated myself in his armchair and warmed my hands before
his crackling fire, for a sharp frost had set in, and the windows
were thick with the ice crystals. "I suppose," I remarked, "that,
homely as it looks, this thing has some deadly story linked on to
it -- that it is the clue which will guide you in the solution of
some mystery and the punishment of some crime."
  "No, no. No crime," said Sherlock Holmes, laughing. "Only
one of those whimsical little incidents which will happen when
you have four million human beings all jostling each other within
the space of a few square miles. Amid the action and reaction of
so dense a swarm of humanity, every possible combination of
events may be expected to take place, and many a little problem
will be presented which may be striking and bizarre without
being criminal. We have already had experience of such."
  "So much so," l remarked, "that of the last six cases which I
have added to my notes, three have been entirely free of any
legal crime."
  "Precisely. You allude to my attempt to recover the Irene
Adler papers, to the singular case of Miss Mary Sutherland, and
to the adventure of the man with the twisted lip. Well, I have no
doubt that this small matter will fall into the same innocent
category. You know Peterson, the commissionaire?"
  "It is to him that this trophy belongs."
  "It is his hat."
  "No, no, he found it. Its owner is unknown. I beg that you
will look upon it not as a battered billycock but as an intellectual
problem. And, first, as to how it came here. It arrived upon
Christmas morning, in company with a good fat goose, which is,
I have no doubt, roasting at this moment in front of Peterson's
fire. The facts are these: about four o'clock on Christmas morn-
ing, Peterson, who, as you know, is a very honest fellow, was
returning from some small jollification and was making his way
homeward down Tottenham Court Road. In front of him he saw,
in the gaslight, a tallish man, walking with a slight stagger, and
carrying a white goose slung over his shoulder. As he reached
the corner of Goodge Street, a row broke out between this
stranger and a little knot of roughs. One of the latter knocked off
the man's hat, on which he raised his stick to defend himself
and, swinging it over his head, smashed the shop window behind
him. Peterson had rushed forward to protect the stranger from his
assailants; but the man, shocked at having broken the window,
and seeing an official-looking person in uniform rushing towards
him, dropped his goose, took to his heels, and vanished amid the
labyrinth of small streets which lie at the back of Tottenham
Court Road. The roughs had also fled at the appearance of
Peterson, so that he was left in possession of the field of battle,
and also of the spoils of victory in the shape of this battered hat
and a most unimpeachable Christmas goose."
  "Which surely he restored to their owner?"
  "My dear fellow, there lies the problem. It is true that 'For
Mrs. Henry Baker' was printed upon a small card which was tied
to the bird's left leg, and it is also true that the initials 'H. B.'
are legible upon the lining of this hat, but as there are some
thousands of Bakers, and some hundreds of Henry Bakers in this
city of ours, it is not easy to restore lost property to any one of
  "What, then, did Peterson do?"
  "He brought round both hat and goose to me on Christmas
morning, knowing that even the smallest problems are of interest
to me. The goose we retained until this morning, when there
were signs that, in spite of the slight frost, it would be well that
it should be eaten without unnecessary delay. Its finder has
carried it off, therefore, to fulfil the ultimate destiny of a goose,
while I continue to retain the hat of the unknown gentleman who
lost his Christmas dinner."
  "Did he not advertise?"
  "Then, what clue could you have as to his identity?"
  "Only as much as we can deduce."
  "From his hat?"
  "But you are joking. What can you gather from this old
battered felt?"
  "Here is my lens. You know my methods. What can you
gather yourself as to the individuality of the man who has worn
this article?"
  I took the tattered object in my hands and turned it over rather
ruefully. It was a very ordinary black hat of the usual round
shape, hard and much the worse for wear. The lining had been of
red silk, but was a good deal discoloured. There was no maker's
name; but, as Holmes had remarked, the initials "H. B." were
scrawled upon one side. It was pierced in the brim for a hat-
securer, but the elastic was missing. For the rest, it was cracked,
exceedingly dusty, and spotted in several places, although there
seemed to have been some attempt to hide the discoloured
patches by smearing them with ink.
  "I can see nothing," said I, handing it back to my friend.
  "On the contrary, Watson, you can see everything. You fail,
however, to reason from what you see. You are too timid in
drawing your inferences."
  "Then, pray tell me what it is that you can infer from this
  He picked it up and gazed at it in the peculiar introspective
fashion which was characteristic of him. "It is perhaps less
suggestive than it might have been," he remarked, "and yet
there are a few inferences which are very distinct, and a few
others which represent at least a strong balance of probability.
That the man was highly intellectual is of course obvious upon
the face of it, and also that he was fairly well-to-do within the
last three years, although he has now fallen upon evil days. He
had foresight, but has less now than formerly, pointing to a
moral retrogression, which, when taken with the decline of his
fortunes, seems to indicate some evil influence, probably drink,
at work upon him. This may account also for the obvious fact
that his wife has ceased to love him."
  "My dear Holmes!"
  "He has, however, retained some degree of self-respect," he
continued, disregarding my remonstrance. "He is a man who
leads a sedentary life, goes out little, is out of training entirely,
is middle-aged, has grizzled hair which he has had cut within the
last few days, and which he anoints with lime-cream. These are
the more patent facts which are to be deduced from his hat.
Also, by the way, that it is extremely improbable that he has gas
laid on in his house."
  "You are certainly joking, Holmes."
  "Not in the least. Is it possible that even now, when I give
you these results, you are unable to see how they are attained?"
  "I have no doubt that I am very stupid, but I must confess that
I am unable to follow you. For example, how did you deduce
that this man was intellectual?"
  For answer Holmes clapped the hat upon his head. It came
right over the forehead and settled upon the bridge of his nose.
"It is a question of cubic capacity," said he; "a man with so
large a brain must have something in it."
  "The decline of his fortunes, then?"
  "This hat is three years old. These flat brims curled at the
edge came in then. It is a hat of the very best quality. Look at
the band of ribbed silk and the excellent lining. If this man could
afford to buy so expensive a hat three years ago, and has had no
hat since, then he has assuredly gone down in the world."
  "Well, that is clear enough, certainly. But how about the
foresight and the moral retrogression?"
  Sherlock Holmes laughed. "Here is the foresight," said he
putting his finger upon the little disc and loop of the hat-securer.
"They are never sold upon hats. If this man ordered one, it is a
sign of a certain amount of foresight, since he went out of his
way to take this precaution against the wind. But since we see
that he has broken the elastic and has not troubled to replace it, it
is obvious that he has less foresight now than formerly, which is
a distinct proof of a weakening nature. On the other hand, he has
endeavoured to conceal some of these stains upon the felt by
daubing them with ink, which is a sign that he has not entirely
lost his self-respect."
  "Your reasoning is certainly plausible."
  "The further points, that he is middle-aged, that his hair is
grizzled, that it has been recently cut, and that he uses lime-
cream, are all to be gathered from a close examination of the
lower part of the lining. The lens discloses a large number of
hair-ends, clean cut by the scissors of the barber. They all appear
to be adhesive, and there is a distinct odour of lime-cream. This
dust, you will observe, is not the gritty, gray dust of the street
but the fluffy brown dust of the house, showing that it has been
hung up indoors most of the time, while the marks of moisture
upon the inside are proof positive that the wearer perspired very
freely, and could therefore, hardly be in the best of training."
  "But his wife -- you said that she had ceased to love him."
  "This hat has not been brushed for weeks. When I see you,
my dear Watson, with a week's accumulation of dust upon your
hat, and when your wife allows you to go out in such a state, I
shall fear that you also have been unfortunate enough to lose
your wife's affection."
  "But he might be a bachelor."
  "Nay, he was bringing home the goose as a peace-offering to
his wife. Remember the card upon the bird's leg."
  "You have an answer to everything. But how on earth do you
deduce that the gas is not laid on in his house?"
  "One tallow stain, or even two, might come by chance; but
when I see no less than five, I think that there can be little doubt
that the individual must be brought into frequent contact with
burning tallow -- walks upstairs at night probably with his hat in
one hand and a guttering candle in the other. Anyhow, he never
got tallow-stains from a gasjet. Are you satisfied?"
  "Well, it is very ingenious," said I, laughing; "but since, as
you said just now, there has been no crime committed, and no
harm done save the loss of a goose, all this seems to be rather a
waste of energy."
  Sherlock Holmes had opened his mouth to reply, when the
door flew open, and Peterson, the commissionaire, rushed into
the apartment with flushed cheeks and the face of a man who is
dazed with astonishment.
  "The goose, Mr. Holmes! The goose, sir!" he gasped.
  "Eh? What of it, then? Has it returned to life and flapped off
through the kitchen window?" Holmes twisted himself round
upon the sofa to get a fairer view of the man's excited face.
  "See here, sir! See what my wife found in its crop!" He held
out his hand and displayed upon the centre of the palm a
brilliantly scintillating blue stone, rather smaller than a bean in
size, but of such purity and radiance that it twinkled like an
electric point in the dark hollow of his hand.
  Sherlock Holmes sat up with a whistle. "By Jove, Peterson!"
said he, "this is treasure trove indeed. I suppose you know what
you have got?"
  "A diamond, sir? A precious stone. It cuts into glass as
though it were putty."
  "It's. more than a precious stone. It is the precious stone."
  "Not the Countess of Morcar's blue carbuncle!" I ejaculated.
  "Precisely so. l ought to know its size and shape, seeing that I
have read the advertisement about it in The Times every day
lately. It is absolutely unique, and its value can only be conjec-
tured, but the reward offered of 1000 pounds is certainly not within a
twentieth part of the market price."
  "A thousand pounds! Great Lord of mercy!" The commis-
sionaire plumped down into a chair and stared from one to the
other of us.
  "That is the reward, and I have reason to know that there are
sentimental considerations in the background which would in-
duce the Countess to part with half her fortune if she could but
recover the gem."
  "It was lost, if I remember aright, at the Hotel Cosmopoli-
tan," I remarked.
  "Precisely so, on December 22d, just five days ago. John
Horner, a plumber, was accused of having abstracted it from the
lady's jewel-case. The evidence against him was so strong that
the case has been referred to the Assizes. I have some account of
the matter here, I believe." He rummaged amid his newspapers,
glancing over the dates, until at last he smoothed one out,
doubled it over, and read the following paragraph:

             "Hotel Cosmopolitan Jewel Robbery. John Horner, 26,
            plumber, was brought up upon the charge of having upon
            the 22d inst., abstracted from the jewel-case of the Countess
            of Morcar the valuable gem known as the blue carbuncle.
            James Ryder, upper-attendant at the hotel, gave his evi-
            dence to the effect that he had shown Horner up to the
            dressing-room of the Countess of Morcar upon the day of
            the robbery in order that he might solder the second bar of
            the grate, which was loose. He had remained with Horner
            some little time, but had finally been called away. On
            returning, he found that Horner had disappeared, that the
            bureau had been forced open, and that the small morocco
            casket in which, as it afterwards transpired, the Countess
            was accustomed to keep her jewel, was lying empty upon
            the dressing-table. Ryder instantly gave the alarm, and Horner
            was arrested the same evening; but the stone could not be
            found either upon his person or in his rooms. Catherine
            Cusack, maid to the Countess, deposed to having heard
            Ryder's cry of dismay on discovering the robbery, and to
            having rushed into the room, where she found matters as
            described by the last witness. Inspector Bradstreet, B divi-
            sion, gave evidence as to the arrest of Horner, who strug-
            gled frantically, and protested his innocence in the strongest
            terms. Evidence of a previous conviction for robbery having
            been given against the prisoner, the magistrate refused to
            deal summarily with the offence, but referred it to the
            Assizes. Horner, who had shown signs of intense emotion
            during the proceedings, fainted away at the conclusion and
            was carried out of court.

  "Hum! So much for the police-court," said Holmes thought-
fully, tossing aside the paper. "The question for us now to solve
is the sequence of events leading from a rifled jewel-case at one
end to the crop of a goose in Tottenham Court Road at the other.
You see, Watson, our little deductions have suddenly assumed a
much more important and less innocent aspect. Here is the stone;
the stone came from the goose, and the goose came from Mr.
Henry Baker, the gentleman with the bad hat and all the other
characteristics with which I have bored you. So now we must set
ourselves very seriously to finding this gentleman and ascertain-
ing what part he has played in this little mystery. To do this, we
must try the simplest means first, and these lie undoubtedly in an
advertisement in all the evening papers. If this fail, I shall have
recourse to other methods."
  "What will you say?"
  "Give me a pencil and that slip of paper. Now, then:

        "Found at the corner of Goodge Street, a goose and a
      black felt hat. Mr. Henry Baker can have the same by
      applying at 6:30 this evening at 221B, Baker Street.

That is clear and concise."
  "Very. But will he see it?"
  "Well, he is sure to keep an eye on the papers, since, to a
poor man, the loss was a heavy one. He was clearly so scared by
his mischance in breaking the window and by the approach of
Peterson that he thought of nothing but flight, but since then he
must have bitterly regretted the impulse which caused him to
drop his bird. Then, again, the introduction of his name will
cause him to see it, for everyone who knows him will direct his
attention to it. Here you are, Peterson, run down to the advertis-
ing agency and have this put in the evening papers."
  "In which, sir?"
  "Oh, in the Clobe, Star, Pall Mall, St. James's, Evening
News Standard, Echo, and any others that occur to you."
  "Very well, sir. And this stone?"
  "Ah, yes, I shall keep the stone. Thank you. And, I say,
Peterson, just buy a goose on your way back and leave it here
with me, for we must have one to give to this gentleman in place
of the one which your family is now devouring."
  When the commissionaire had gone, Holmes took up the stone
and held it against the light. "It's a bonny thing," said he. "Just
see how it glints and sparkles. Of course it is a nucleus and focus
of crime. Every good stone is. They are the devil's pet baits. In
the larger and older jewels every facet may stand for a bloody
deed. This stone is not yet twenty years old. It was found in the
banks of the Amoy River in southem China and is remarkable in
having every characteristic of the carbuncle, save that it is blue
in shade instead of ruby red. In spite of its youth, it has already a
sinister history. There have been two murders, a vitriol-throwing,
a suicide, and several robberies brought about for the sake of this
forty-grain weight of crystallized charcoal. Who would think that
so pretty a toy would be a purveyor to the gallows and the
prison? I'll lock it up in my strong box now and drop a line to
the Countess to say that we have it."
  "Do you think that this man Horner is innocent?"
  "I cannot tell."
  "Well, then, do you imagine that this other one, Henry Baker,
had anything to do with the matter?"
  "It is, I think, much more likely that Henry Baker is an
absolutely innocent man, who had no idea that the bird which he
was carrying was of considerably more value than if it were
made of solid gold. That, however, I shall determine by a very
simple test if we have an answer to our advertisement."
  "And you can do nothing until then?"
  "Nothing. "
  "In that case I shall continue my professional round. But I
shall come back in the evening at the hour you have mentioned,
for I should like to see the solution of so tangled a business."
  "Very glad to see you. I dine at seven. There is a woodcock, I
believe. By the way, in view of recent occurrences, perhaps I
ought to ask Mrs. Hudson to examine its crop."
  I had been delayed at a case, and it was a little after half-past
six when I found myself in Baker Street once more. As I
approached the house I saw a tall man in a Scotch bonnet with a
coat which was buttoned up to his chin waiting outside in the
bright semicircle which was thrown from the fanlight. Just as l
arrived the door was opened, and we were shown up together to
Holmes's room.
  "Mr. Henry Baker, I believe," said he, rising from his armchair
and greeting his visitor with the easy air of geniality which he
could so readily assume. "Pray take this chair by the fire, Mr.
Baker. It is a cold night, and I observe that your circulation is
more adapted for summer than for winter. Ah, Watson, you have
just come at the right time. Is that your hat, Mr. Baker?"
  "Yes, sir, that is undoubtedly my hat."
  He was a large man with rounded shoulders, a massive head,
and a broad, intelligent face, sloping down to a pointed beard of
grizzled brown. A touch of red in nose and cheeks, with a slight
tremor of his extended hand, recalled Holmes's surmise as to his
habits. His rusty black frock-coat was buttoned right up in front,
with the collar turned up, and his lank wrists protruded from his
sleeves without a sign of cuff or shirt. He spoke in a slow
staccato fashion, choosing his words with care, and gave the
impression generally of a man of learning and letters who had
had ill-usage at the hands of fortune.
  "We have retained these things for some days," said Holmes,
"because we expected to see an advertisement from you giving
your address. I am at a loss to know now why you did not
  Our visitor gave a rather shamefaced laugh. "Shillings have
not been so plentiful with me as they once were," he remarked.
"I had no doubt that the gang of roughs who assaulted me had
carried off both my hat and the bird. I did not care to spend more
money in a hopeless attempt at recovering them."
  "Very naturally. By the way, about the bird, we were com-
pelled to eat it."
  "To eat it!" Our visitor half rose from his chair in his
  "Yes, it would have been of no use to anyone had we not
done so. But I presume that this other goose upon the sideboard,
which is about the same weight and perfectly fresh, will answer
your purpose equally well?"
  "Oh, certainly, certainly," answered Mr. Baker with a sigh of
  "Of course, we still have the feathers, legs, crop, and so on of
your own bird, so if you wish  --"
  The man burst into a hearty laugh. "They might be useful to
me as relics of my adventure," said he, "but beyond that I can
hardly see what use the disjecta membra of my late acquaintance
are going to be to me. No, sir, I think that, with your permis-
sion, I will confine my attentions to the excellent bird which I
perceive upon the sideboard."
  Sherlock Holmes glanced sharply across at me with a slight
shrug of his shoulders.
  "There is your hat, then, and there your bird," said he. "By
the way, would it bore you to tell me where you got the other
one from? I am somewhat of a fowl fancier, and I have seldom
seen a better grown goose."
  "Certainly, sir," said Baker, who had risen and tucked his
newly gained property under his arm. "There are a few of us
who frequent the Alpha Inn, near the Museum -- we are to be
found in the Museum itself during the day, you understand. This
year our good host, Windigate by name, instituted a goose club,
by which, on consideration of some few pence every week, we
were each to receive a bird at Christmas. My pence were duly
paid, and the rest is familiar to you. I am much indebted to you,
sir, for a Scotch bonnet is fitted neither to my years nor my
gravity." With a comical pomposity of manner he bowed sol-
emnly to both of us and strode off upon his way.
  "So much for Mr. Henry Baker," said Holmes when he had
closed the door behind him. "It is quite certain that he knows
nothing whatever about the matter. Are you hungry, Watson?"
  "Not particularly."
  "Then I suggest that we turn our dinner into a supper and
follow up this clue while it is still hot."
  "By all means."
  It was a bitter night, so we drew on our ulsters and wrapped
cravats about our throats. Outside, the stars were shining coldly
in a cloudless sky, and the breath of the passers-by blew out into
smoke like so many pistol shots. Our footfalls rang out crisply
and loudly as we swung through the doctors' quarter, Wimpole
Street, Harley Street, and so through Wigmore Street into Ox-
ford Street. In a quarter of an hour we were in Bloomsbury at the
Alpha Inn, which is a small public-house at the corner of one of
the streets which runs down into Holborn. Holmes pushed open
the door of the private bar and ordered two glasses of beer from
the ruddy-faced, white-aproned landlord.
  "Your beer should be excellent if it is as good as your
geese," said he.
  "My geese!" The man seemed surprised.
  "Yes. I was speaking only half an hour ago to Mr. Henry
Baker, who was a member of your goose club."
  "Ah! yes, I see. But you see, sir, them's not our geese."
  "Indeed! Whose, then?"
  "Well, I got the two dozen from a salesman in Covent Garden."
  "Indeed? I know some of them. Which was it?"
  "Breckinridge is his name."
  "Ah! I don't know him. Well, here's your good health
landlord, and prosperity to your house. Good-night.
  "Now for Mr. Breckinridge," he continued, buttoning up his
coat as we came out into the frosty air. "Remember, Watson
that though we have so homely a thing as a goose at one end of
this chain, we have at the other a man who will certainly get
seven years' penal servitude unless we can establish his inno-
cence. It is possible that our inquiry may but confirm his guilt
but, in any case, we have a line of investigation which has been
missed by the police, and which a singular chance has placed in
our hands. Let us follow it out to the bitter end. Faces to the
south, then, and quick march!"
  We passed across Holborn, down Endell Street, and so through
a zigzag of slums to Covent Garden Market. One of the largest
stalls bore the name of Breckinridge upon it, and the proprietor
a horsy-looking man, with a sharp face and trim side-whiskers
was helping a boy to put up the shutters.
  "Good-evening. It's a cold night," said Holmes.
  The salesman nodded and shot a questioning glance at my
  "Sold out of geese, I see," continued Holmes, pointing at the
bare slabs of marble.
  "Let you have five hundred to-morrow morning."
  "That's no good."
  "Well, there are some on the stall with the gas-flare."
  "Ah, but I was recommended to you."
  "Who by?"
  "The landlord of the Alpha."
  "Oh, yes; I sent him a couple of dozen."
  "Fine birds they were, too. Now where did you get them
  To my surprise the question provoked a burst of anger from
the salesman.
  "Now, then, mister," said he, with his head cocked and his
arms akimbo, "what are you driving at? Let's have it straight,
  "It is straight enough. I should like to know who sold you the
geese which you supplied to the Alpha."
  "Well then, I shan't tell you. So now!"
  "Oh, it is a matter of no importance; but I don't know why
you should be so warm over such a trifle."
  "Warm! You'd be as warm, maybe, if you were as pestered
as I am. When I pay good money for a good article there should
be an end of the business; but it's 'Where are the geese?' and
'Who did you sell the geese to?' and 'What will you take for the
geese?' One would think they were the only geese in the world,
to hear the fuss that is made over them."
  "Well, I have no connection with any other people who have
been making inquiries," said Holmes carelessly. "If you won't
tell us the bet is off, that is all. But I'm always ready to back my
opinion on a matter of fowls, and I have a fiver on it that the bird
I ate is country bred."
  "Well, then, you've lost your fiver, for it's town bred,"
snapped the salesman.
  "It's nothing of the kind."
  "I say it is."
  "I don't believe it."
  "D'you think you know more about fowls than I, who have
handled them ever since I was a nipper? I tell you, all those birds
that went to the Alpha were town bred."
  "You'll never persuade me to believe that."
  "Will you bet, then?"
  "It's merely taking your money, for I know that I am right.
But I'll have a sovereign on with you, just to teach you not to be
  The salesman chuckled grimly. "Bring me the books, Bill,"
said he.
  The small boy brought round a small thin volume and a great
greasy-backed one, laying them out together beneath the hanging
  "Now then, Mr. Cocksure," said the salesman, "I thought
that I was out of geese, but before I finish you'll find that there
is still one left in my shop. You see this little book?"
  "That's the list of the folk from whom I buy. D'you see?
Well, then, here on this page are the country folk, and the
numbers after their names are where their accounts are in the big
ledger. Now, then! You see this other page in red ink? Well, that
is a list of my town suppliers. Now, look at that third name. Just
read it out to me."
  "Mrs. Oakshott, 117, Brixton Road -- 249," read Holmes.
  "Quite so. Now turn that up in the ledger."
  Holmes turned to the page indicated. "Here you are, 'Mrs.
Oakshott, 117, Brixton Road, egg and poultry supplier."
  "Now, then, what's the last entry?"
  " 'December 22d. Twenty-four geese at 7s. 6d.' "
  "Quite so. There you are. And underneath?"
  " 'Sold to Mr. Windigate of the Alpha, at 12s.' "
  "What have you to say now?"
  Sherlock Holmes looked deeply chagrined. He drew a sover-
eign from his pocket and threw it down upon the slab, turning
away with the air of a man whose disgust is too deep for words.
A few yards off he stopped under a lamp-post and laughed in the
hearty, noiseless fashion which was peculiar to him.
  "When you see a man with whiskers of that cut and the
'Pink 'un' protruding out of his pocket, you can always draw him
by a bet," said he. "I daresay that if I had put lOO pounds down in
front of him, that man would not have given me such complete
information as was drawn from him by the idea that he was
doing me on a wager. Well, Watson, we are, I fancy, nearing
the end of our quest, and the only point which remains to be
determined is whether we should go on to this Mrs. Oakshott
to-night, or whether we should reserve it for to-morrow. It is
clear from what that surly fellow said that there are others
besides ourselves who are anxious about the matter, and I
should --"
  His remarks were suddenly cut short by a loud hubbub which
broke out from the stall which we had just left. Turning round
we saw a little rat-faced fellow standing in the centre of the
circle of yellow light which was thrown by the swinging lamp,
while Breckinridge, the salesman, framed in the door of his stall,
was shaking his fists fiercely at the cringing figure.
  "I've had enough of you and your geese," he shouted. "I
wish you were all at the devil together. If you come pestering me
any more with your silly talk I'll set the dog at you. You bring
Mrs. Oakshott here and I'll answer her, but what have you to do
with it? Did I buy the geese off you?"
  "No; but one of them was mine all the same," whined the
little man.
  "Well, then, ask Mrs. Oakshott for it."
  "She told me to ask you."
  "Well, you can ask the King of Proosia, for all I care. I've
had enough of it. Get out of this!" He rushed fiercely forward,
and the inquirer flitted away into the darkness.
  "Ha! this may save us a visit to Brixton Road," whispered
Holmes. "Come with me, and we will see what is to be made of
this fellow." Striding through the scattered knots of people who
lounged round the flaring stalls, my companion speedily over-
took the little man and touched him upon the shoulder. He
sprang round, and I could see in the gas-light that every vestige
of colour had been driven from his face.
  "Who are you, then? What do you want?" he asked in a
quavering voice.
  "You will excuse me," said Holmes blandly, "but I could not
help overhearing the questions which you put to the salesman
just now. I think that I could be of assistance to you."
  "You? Who are you? How could you know anything of the
  "My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know
what other people don't know."
  "But you can know nothing of this?"
  "Excuse me, I know everything of it. You are endeavouring
to trace some geese which were sold by Mrs. Oakshott, of
Brixton Road, to a salesman named Breckinridge, by him in turn
to Mr. Windigate, of the Alpha, and by him to his club, of
which Mr. Henry Baker is a member."
  "Oh, sir, you are the very man whom I have longed to meet,"
cried the little fellow with outstretched hands and quivering
fingers. "I can hardly explain to you how interested I am in this
  Sherlock Holmes hailed a four-wheeler which was passing.
"In that case we had better discuss it in a cosy room rather than
in this wind-swept market-place," said he. "But pray tell me,
before we go farther, who it is that I have the pleasure of
  The man hesitated for an instant. "My name is John Robin-
son," he answered with a sidelong glance.
  "No, no; the real name," said Holmes sweetly. "It is always
awkward doing business with an alias."
  A flush sprang to the white cheeks of the stranger. "Well
then," said he, "my real name is James Ryder."
  "Precisely so. Head attendant at the Hotel Cosmopolitan. Pray
step into the cab, and I shall soon be able to tell you everything
which you would wish to know."
  The little man stood glancing from one to the other of us with
half-frightened, half-hopeful eyes, as one who is not sure whether
he is on the verge of a windfall or of a catastrophe. Then he
stepped into the cab, and in half an hour we were back in the
sitting-room at Baker Street. Nothing had been said during our
drive, but the high, thin breathing of our new companion, and
the claspings and unclaspings of his hands, spoke of the nervous
tension within him.
  "Here we are!" said Holmes cheerily as we filed into the
room. "The fire looks very seasonabe in this weather. You look
cold, Mr. Ryder. Pray take the basket-chair. I will just put on my
slippers before we settle this little matter of yours. Now, then!
You want to know what became of those geese?"
  "Yes, sir."
  "Or rather, I fancy, of that goose. It was one bird, I imagine
in which you were interested -- white, with a black bar across the
  Ryder quivered with emotion. "Oh, sir," he cried, "can you
tell me where it went to?"
  "It came here."
  "Yes, and a most remarkable bird it proved. I don't wonder
that you should take an interest in it. It laid an egg after it was
dead -- the bonniest, brightest little blue egg that ever was seen. I
have it here in my museum."
  Our visitor staggered to his feet and clutched the mantelpiece
with his right hand. Holmes unlocked his strong-box and held up
the blue carbuncle, which shone out like a star, with a cold
brilliant, many-pointed radiance. Ryder stood glaring with a
drawn face, uncertain whether to claim or to disown it.
  "The game's up, Ryder," said Holmes quietly. "Hold up,
man, or you'll be into the fire! Give him an arm back into his
chair, Watson. He's not got blood enough to go in for felony
with impunity. Give him a dash of brandy. So! Now he looks a
little more human. What a shrimp it is, to be sure!"
  For a moment he had staggered and nearly fallen, but the
brandy brought a tinge of colour into his cheeks, and he sat
staring with frightened eyes at his accuser.
  "I have almost every link in my hands, and all the proofs
which I could possibly need, so there is little which you need tell
me. Still, that little may as well be cleared up to make the case
complete. You had heard, Ryder, of this blue stone of the
Countess of Morcar's?"
  "It was Catherine Cusack who told me of it," said he in a
crackling voice.
  "I see -- her ladyship's waiting-maid. Well, the temptation of
sudden wealth so easily acquired was too much for you, as it has
been for better men before you; but you were not very scrupu-
lous in the means you used. It seems to me, Ryder, that there is
the making of a very pretty villain in you. You knew that this
man Horner, the plumber, had been concerned in some such
matter before, and that suspicion would rest the more readily
upon him. What did you do, then? You made some small job in
my lady's room -- you and your confederate Cusack -- and you
managed that he should be the man sent for. Then, when he had
left, you rifled the jewel-case, raised the alarm, and had this
unfortunate man arrested. You then --"
  Ryder threw himself down suddenly upon the rug and clutched
at my companion's knees. "For God's sake, have mercy!" he
shrieked. "Think of my father! of my mother! It would break
their hearts. I never went wrong before! I never will again. I
swear it. I'll swear it on a Bible. Oh, don't bring it into court!
For Christ's sake, don't!"
  "Get back into your chair!" said Holmes sternly. "It is very
well to cringe and crawl now, but you thought little enough of
this poor Horner in the dock for a crime of which he knew
  "I will fly, Mr. Holmes. I will leave the country, sir. Then
the charge against him will break down."
  "Hum! We will talk about that. And now let us hear a true
account of the next act. How came the stone into the goose, and
how came the goose into the open market? Tell us the truth, for
there lies your only hope of safety."
  Ryder passed his tongue over his parched lips. "I will tell you
it just as it happened, sir," said he. "When Horner had been
arrested, it seemed to me that it would be best for me to get
away with the stone at once, for I did not know at what moment
the police might not take it into their heads to search me and my
room. There was no place about the hotel where it would be
safe. I went out, as if on some commission, and I made for my
sister's house. She had married a man named Oakshott, and
lived in Brixton Road, where she fattened fowls for the market.
All the way there every man I met seemed to me to be a
policeman or a detective; and, for all that it was a cold night, the
sweat was pouring down my face before I came to the Brixton
Road. My sister asked me what was the matter, and why I was
so pale; but I told her that I had been upset by the jewel robbery
at the hotel. Then I went into the back yard and smoked a pipe
and wondered what it would be best to do.
  "I had a friend once called Maudsley, who went to the bad,
and has just been serving his time in Pentonville. One day he had
met me, and fell into talk about the ways of thieves, and how
they could get rid of what they stole. I knew that he would be
true to me, for I knew one or two things about him; so I made up
my mind to go right on to Kilburn, where he lived, and take him
into my confidence. He would show me how to turn the stone
into money. But how to get to him in safety? I thought of the
agonies I had gone through in coming from the hotel. I might at
any moment be seized and searched, and there would be the
stone in my waistcoat pocket. I was leaning against the wall at
the time and looking at the geese which were waddling about
round my feet, and suddenly an idea came into my head which
showed me how I could beat the best detective that ever lived.
  "My sister had told me some weeks before that I might have
the pick of her geese for a Christmas present, and I knew that
she was always as good as her word. I would take my goose
now, and in it I would carry my stone to Kilburn. There was a
little shed in the yard, and behind this I drove one of the
birds -- a fine big one, white, with a barred tail. I caught it, and
prying its bill open, I thrust the stone down its throat as far as
my finger could reach. The bird gave a gulp, and I felt the stone
pass along its gullet and down into its crop. But the creature
flapped and struggled, and out came my sister to know what was
the matter. As I turned to speak to her the brute broke loose and
fluttered off among the others.
  " 'Whatever were you doing with that bird, Jem?' says she.
  " 'Well,' said I, 'you said you'd give me one for Christmas,
and I was feeling which was the fattest.'
  " 'Oh,' says she, 'we've set yours aside for you -- Jem's bird,
we call it. It's the big white one over yonder. There's twenty-six
of them, which makes one for you, and one for us, and two
dozen for the market.'
  " 'Thank you, Maggie,' says l; 'but if it is all the same to
you, I'd rather have that one I was handling just now.'
  " 'The other is a good three pound heavier,' said she, 'and we
fattened it expressly for you.'
  " 'Never mind. I'll have the other, and I'll take it now,' said I.
  " 'Oh, just as you like,' said she, a little huffed. 'Which is it
you want, then?'
  " 'That white one with the barred tail, right in the middle of
the flock.'
  " 'Oh, very well. Kill it and take it with you.'
  "Well, I did what she said, Mr. Holmes, and I carried the bird
all the way to Kilburn. I told my pal what I had done, for he was
a man that it was easy to tell a thing like that to. He laughed
until he choked, and we got a knife and opened the goose. My
heart turned to water, for there was no sign of the stone, and I
knew that some terrible mistake had occurred. I left the bird
rushed back to my sister's, and hurried into the back yard. There
was not a bird to be seen there.
  " 'Where are they all, Maggie?' I cried.
  " 'Gone to the dealer's, Jem.'
  " 'Which dealer's?'
  " 'Breckinridge, of Covent Garden.'
  " 'But was there another with a barred tail?' I asked, 'the
same as the one I chose?'
  " 'Yes, Jem; there were two barred-tailed ones, and I could
never tell them apart.'
  "Well, then, of course I saw it all, and I ran off as hard as my
feet would carry me to this man Breckinridge; but he had sold
the lot at once, and not one word would he tell me as to where
they had gone. You heard him yourselves to-night. Well, he has
always answered me like that. My sister thinks that I am going
mad. Sometimes I think that I am myself. And now -- and now I
am myself a branded thief, without ever having touched the
wealth for which I sold my character. God help me! God help
me!" He burst into convulsive sobbing, with his face buried in
his hands.
  There was a long silence, broken only by his heavy breathing
and by the measured tapping of Sherlock Holmes's finger-tips
upon the edge of the table. Then my friend rose and threw open
the door.
  "Get out!" said he.
  "What, sir! Oh, Heaven bless you!"
  "No more words. Get out!"
  And no more words were needed. There was a rush, a clatter
upon the stairs, the bang of a door, and the crisp rattle of running
footfalls from the street.
  "After all, Watson," said Holmes, reaching up his hand for
his clay pipe, "I am not retained by the police to supply their
deficiencies. If Horner were in danger it would be another thing;
but this fellow will not appear against him, and the case must
collapse. I suppose that I am commuting a felony. but it is just
possible that I am saving a soul. This fellow will not go wrong
again; he is too terribly frightened. Send him to jail now, and
you make him a jail-bird for life. Besides, it is the season of
forgiveness. Chance has put in our way a most singular and
whimsical problem, and its solution is its own reward. If you
will have the goodness to touch the bell, Doctor, we will begin
another investigation, in which, also a bird will be the chief

              The Aduenture of the Speckled Band

  On glancing over my notes of the seventy odd cases in which I
have during the last eight years studied the methods of my friend
Sherlock Holmes, I find many tragic, some comic, a large
number merely strange, but none commonplace; for, working as
he did rather for the love of his art than for the acquirement of
wealth, he refused to associate himself with any investigation
which did not tend towards the unusual, and even the fantastic.
Of all these varied cases, however, I cannot recall any which
presented more singular features than that which was associated
with the well-known Surrey family of the Roylotts of Stoke
Moran. The events in question occurred in the early days of my
association with Holmes, when we were sharing rooms as bache-
lors in Baker Street. It is possible that I might have placed them
upon record before, but a promise of secrecy was made at the
time, from which I have only been freed during the last month
by the untimely death of the lady to whom the pledge was given.
It is perhaps as well that the facts should now come to light, for I
have reasons to know that there are widespread rumours as to the
death of Dr. Grimesby Roylott which tend to make the matter
even more terrible than the truth.
  It was early in April in the year '83 that I woke one morning
to find Sherlock Holmes standing, fully dressed, by the side of
my bed. He was a late riser, as a rule, and as the clock on the
mantelpiece showed me that it was only a quarter-past seven, I
blinked up at him in some surprise, and perhaps just a little
resentment, for I was myself regular in my habits.
  "Very sorry to knock you up, Watson," said he, "but it's the
common lot this morning. Mrs. Hudson has been knocked up,
she retorted upon me, and I on you."
  "What is it, then -- a fire?"
  "No; a client. It seems that a young lady has arrived in a
considerable state of excitement, who insists upon seeing me.
She is waiting now in the sitting-room. Now, when young ladies
wander about the metropolis at this hour of the morning, and
knock sleepy people up out of their beds, I presume that it is
something very pressing which they have to communicate. Should
it prove to be an interesting case, you would, I am sure, wish to
follow it from the outset. I thought, at any rate, that I should call
you and give you the chance."
  "My dear fellow, I would not miss it for anything."
  I had no keener pleasure than in following Holmes in his
plofessional investigations, and in admiring the rapid deductions,
as swift as intuitions, and yet always founded on a logical basis
wlth which he unravelled the problems which were submitted to
him. I rapidly threw on my clothes and was ready in a few
minutes to accompany my friend down to the sitting-room. A
lady dressed in black and heavily veiled, who had been sitting in
the window, rose as we entered.
  "Good-morning, madam," said Holmes cheerily. "My name
is Sherlock Holmes. This is my intimate friend and associate,
Dr. Watson, before whom you can speak as freely as before
myself. Ha! I am glad to see that Mrs. Hudson has had the good
sense to light the fire. Pray draw up to it, and I shall order you a
cup of hot coffee, for I observe that you are shivering."
  "lt is not cold which makes me shiver," said the woman in a
low voice, changing her seat as requested.
  "What, then?"
  "It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror." She raised her veil as
she spoke, and we could see that she was indeed in a pitiable
state of agitation, her face all drawn and gray, with restless
frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal. Her features
and figure were those of a woman of thirty, but her hair was shot
with premature gray, and her expression was weary and haggard.
Sherlock Holmes ran her over with one of his quick, all-
comprehensive glances.
  "You must not fear," said he soothingly, bending forward
and patting her forearm. "We shall soon set matters right, I have
no doubt. You have come in by train this morning, I see."
  "You know me, then?"
  "No, but I observe the second half of a return ticket in the
palm of your left glove. You must have started early, and yet
you had a good drive in a dog-cart, along heavy roads, before
you reached the station."
  The lady gave a violent start and stared in bewilderment at my
  "There is no mystery, my dear madam," said he, smiling.
"The left arm of your jacket is spattered with mud in no less
than seven places. The marks are perfectly fresh. There is no
vehicle save a dog-cart which throws up mud in that way, and
then only when you sit on the left-hand side of the driver."
  "Whatever your reasons may be, you are perfectly correct,"
said she. "I started from home before six, reached Leatherhead
at twenty past, and came in by the first train to Waterloo. Sir, I
can stand this strain no longer; I shall go mad if it continues. I
have no one to turn to -- none, save only one, who cares for me,
and he, poor fellow, can be of little aid. I have heard of you,
Mr. Holmes; I have heard of you from Mrs. Farintosh, whom
you helped in the hour of her sore need. It was from her that I
had your address. Oh, sir, do you not think that you could help
me, too, and at least throw a little light through the dense
darkness which surrounds me? At present it is out of my power
to reward you for your services, but in a month or six weeks I
shall be married, with the control of my own income, and then at
least you shall not find me ungrateful."
  Holmes turned to his desk and, unlocking it, drew out a small
case-book, which he consulted.
  "Farintosh," said he. "Ah yes, I recall the case; it was
concerned with an opal tiara. I think it was before your time,
Watson. I can only say, madam, that I shall be happy to devote
the same care to your case as I did to that of your friend. As to
reward, my profession is its own reward; but you are at liberty to
defray whatever expenses I may be put to, at the time which
suits you best. And now I beg that you will lay before us
everything that may help us in forming an opinion upon the
  "Alas!" replied our visitor, "the very horror of my situation
lies in the fact that my fears are so vague, and my suspicions
depend so entirely upon small points, which might seem trivial
to another, that even he to whom of all others I have a right to
look for help and advice looks upon all that I tell him about it as
the fancies of a nervous woman. He does not say so, but I can
read it from his soothing answers and averted eyes. But I have
heard, Mr. Holmes, that you can see deeply into the manifold
wickedness of the human heart. You may advise me how to walk
amid the dangers which encompass me."
  "I am all attention, madam."
  "My name is Helen Stoner, and I am living with my stepfa-
ther, who is the last survivor of one of the oldest Saxon families
in England, the Roylotts of Stoke Moran, on the western border
of Surrey."
  Holmes nodded his head. "The name is familiar to me," said
  "The family was at one time among the richest in England,
and the estates extended over the borders into Berkshire in the
north, and Hampshire in the west. In the last century, however,
four successive heirs were of a dissolute and wasteful disposi-
tion, and the family ruin was eventually completed by a gambler
in the days of the Regency. Nothing was left save a few acres of
ground, and the two-hundred-year-old house, which is itself crushed
under a heavy mortgage. The last squire dragged out his exis-
tence there, living the horrible life of an aristocratic pauper; but
his only son, my stepfather, seeing that he must adapt himself to
the new conditions, obtained an advance from a relative, which
enabled him to take a medical degree and went out to Calcutta,
where, by his professional skill and his force of character, he
established a large practice. In a fit of anger, however, caused by
some robberies which had been perpetrated in the house, he beat
his native butler to death and narrowly escaped a capital sen-
tence. As it was, he suffered a long term of imprisonment and
afterwards returned to England a morose and disappointed man.
  "When Dr. Roylott was in India he married my mother, Mrs.
Stoner, the young widow of Major-General Stoner, of the Bengal
Artillery. My sister Julia and I were twins, and we were only
two years old at the time of my mother's re-marriage. She had a
considerable sum of money -- not less than lOOO pounds a year -- and
this she bequeathed to Dr. Roylott entirely while we resided with
him, with a provision that a certain annual sum should be
allowed to each of us in the event of our marriage. Shortly after
our return to England my mother died -- she was killed eight
years ago in a railway accident near Crewe. Dr. Roylott then
abandoned his attempts to establish himself in practice in London
and took us to live with him in the old ancestral house at Stoke
Moran. The money which my mother had left was enough for all
our wants, and there seemed to be no obstacle to our happiness.
  "But a terrible change came over our stepfather about this
time. Instead of making friends and exchanging visits with our
neighbours, who had at first been overjoyed to see a Roylott of
Stoke Moran back in the old family seat, he shut himself up in
his house and seldom came out save to indulge in ferocious
quarrels with whoever might cross his path. Violence of temper
approaching to mania has been hereditary in the men of the
family, and in my stepfather's case it had, I believe, been
intensified by his long residence in the tropics. A series of
disgraceful brawls took place, two of which ended in the police-
court, until at last he became the terror of the village, and the
folks would fly at his approach, for he is a man of immense
strength, and absolutely uncontrollable in his anger.
  "Last week he hurled the local blacksmith over a parapet into
a stream, and it was only by paying over all the money which I
could gather together that I was able to avert another public
exposure. He had no friends at all save the wandering gypsies,
and he would give these vagabonds leave to encamp upon the
few acres of bramble-covered land which represent the family
estate, and would accept in return the hospitality of their tents,
wandering away with them sometimes for weeks on end. He has
a passion also for Indian animals, which are sent over to him by
a correspondent, and he has at this moment a cheetah and a
baboon, which wander freely over his grounds and are feared by
the villagers almost as much as their master.
  "You can imagine from what I say that my poor sister Julia
and I had no great pleasure in our lives. No servant would stay
with us, and for a long time we did all the work of the house.
She was but thirty at the time of her death, and yet her hair had
already begun to whiten, even as mine has."
  "Your sister is dead, then?"
  "She died just two years ago, and it is of her death that I wish
to speak to you. You can understand that, living the life which I
have described, we were little likely to see anyone of our own
age and position. We had, however, an aunt, my mother's
maiden sister, Miss Honoria Westphail, who lives near Harrow,
and we were occasionally allowed to pay short visits at this
lady's house. Julia went there at Christmas two years ago, and
met there a half-pay major of marines, to whom she became
engaged. My stepfather learned of the engagement when my
sister returned and offered no objection to the marriage; but
wlthin a fortnight of the day which had been fixed for the
wedding, the terrible event occurred which has deprived me of
my only companion."
  Sherlock Holmes had been leaning back in his chair with his
eyes closed and his head sunk in a cushion, but he half opened
hls lids now and glanced across at his visitor.
  "Pray be precise as to details," said he.
  "It is easy for me to be so, for every event of that dreadful
time is seared into my memory. The manor-house is, as I have
already said, very old, and only one wing is now inhabited. The
bedrooms in this wing are on the ground floor, the sitting-rooms
being in the central block of the buildings. Of these bedrooms the
first is Dr. Roylott's, the second my sister's, and the third my
own. There is no communication between them, but they all
open out into the same corridor. Do I make myself plain?"
  "Perfectly so."
  "The windows of the three rooms open out upon the lawn. That
fatal night Dr. Roylott had gone to his room early, though we
knew that he had not retired to rest, for my sister was troubled
by the smell of the strong Indian cigars which it was his custom
to smoke. She left her room, therefore, and came into mine,
where she sat for some time, chatting about her approaching
wedding. At eleven o'clock she rose to leave me, but she paused
at the door and looked back.
  " 'Tell me, Helen,' said she, 'have you ever heard anyone
whistle in the dead of the night?'
  " 'Never,' said I.
  " 'I suppose that you could not possibly whistle, yourself, in
your sleep?'
  " 'Certainly not. But why?'
  " 'Because during the last few nights I have always, about
three in the morning, heard a low, clear whistle. I am a light
sleeper, and it has awakened me. I cannot tell where it came
from perhaps from the next room, perhaps from the lawn. I
thought that I would just ask you whether you had heard it.'
  " 'No, I have not. It must be those wretched gypsies in the
  " 'Very likely. And yet if it were on the lawn, I wonder that
you did not hear it also.'
  " 'Ah, but I sleep more heavily than you.'
  " 'Well, it is of no great consequence, at any rate.' She
smiled back at me, closed my door, and a few moments later I
heard her key turn in the lock."
  "Indeed," said Holmes. "Was it your custom always to lock
yourselves in at night?"
  "And why?"
  "I think that I mentioned to you that the doctor kept a cheetah
and a baboon. We had no feeling of security unless our doors
were locked."
  "Quite so. Pray proceed with your statement."
  "I could not sleep that night. A vague feeling of impending
misfortune impressed me. My sister and I, you will recollect,
were twins, and you know how subtle are the links which bind
two souls which are so closely allied. It was a wild night. The
wind was howling outside, and the rain was beating and splash-
ing against the windows. Suddenly, amid all the hubbub of the
gale, there burst forth the wild scream of a terrified woman. I
knew that it was my sister's voice. I sprang from my bed,
wrapped a shawl round me, and rushed into the corridor. As I
opened my door I seemed to hear a low whistle, such as my
sister described, and a few moments later a clanging sound, as if
a mass of metal had fallen. As I ran down the passage, my
sister's door was unlocked, and revolved slowly upon its hinges.
I stared at it horror-stricken, not knowing what was about to
issue from it. By the light of the corridor-lamp I saw my sister
appear at the opening, her face blanched with terror, her hands
groping for help, her whole figure swaying to and fro like that of
a drunkard. I ran to her and threw my arms round her, but at that
moment her knees seemed to give way and she fell to the
ground. She writhed as one who is in terrible pain, and her limbs
were dreadfully convulsed. At first I thought that she had not
recognized me, but as I bent over her she suddenly shrieked out
in a voice which I shall never forget, 'Oh, my God! Helen! It
was the band! The speckled band!' There was something else
which she would fain have said, and she stabbed with her finger
into the air in the direction of the doctor's room, but a fresh
convulsion seized her and choked her words. I rushed out,
calling loudly for my stepfather, and I met him hastening from
his room in his dressing-gown. When he reached my sister's side
she was unconscious, and though he poured brandy down her
throat and sent for medical aid from the village, all efforts were
in vain, for she slowly sank and died without having recovered
her consciousness. Such was the dreadful end of my beloved
  One moment," said Holmes, "are you sure about this whis-
tle and metallic sound? Could you swear to it?"
  "That was what the county coroner asked me at the inquiry. It
is my strong impression that I heard it, and yet, among the crash
of the gale and the creaking of an old house, I may possibly have
been deceived."
  "Was your sister dressed?"
  "No, she was in her night-dress. In her right hand was found
the charred stump of a match, and in her left a match-box."
  "Showing that she had struck a light and looked about her
when the alarm took place. That is important. And what conclu-
sions did the coroner come to?"
  "He investigated the case with great care, for Dr. Roylott's
conduct had long been notorious in the county, but he was
unable to find any satisfactory cause of death. My evidence
showed that the door had been fastened upon the inner side, and
the windows were blocked by old-fashioned shutters with broad
iron bars, which were secured every night. The walls were
carefully sounded, and were shown to be quite solid all round,
and the flooring was also thoroughly examined, with the same
result. The chimney is wide, but is barred up by four large
staples. It is certain, therefore, that my sister was quite alone
when she met her end. Besides, there were no marks of any
violence upon her."
  "How about poison?"
  "The doctors examined her for it, but without success."
  "What do you think that this unfortunate lady died of, then?"
  "It is my belief that she died of pure fear and nervous shock,
though what it was that frightened her I cannot imagine."
  "Were there gypsies in the plantation at the time?"
  "Yes, there are nearly always some there."
  "Ah, and what did you gather from this allusion to a band -- a
speckled band?"
  "Sometimes I have thought that it was merely the wild talk of
delirium, sometimes that it may have referred to some band of
people, perhaps to these very gypsies in the plantation. I do not
know whether the spotted handkerchiefs which so many of them
wear over their heads might have suggested the strange adjective
which she used."
  Holmes shook his head like a man who is far from being
  "These are very deep waters," said he; "pray go on with your
  "Two years have passed since then, and my life has been until
lately lonelier than ever. A month ago, however, a dear friend,
whom I have known for many years, has done me the honour to
ask my hand in marriage. His name is Armitage -- Percy
Armitage -- the second son of Mr. Armitage, of Crane Water,
near Reading. My stepfather has offered no opposition to the
match, and we are to be married in the course of the spring. Two
days ago some repairs were started in the west wing of the
building, and my bedroom wall has been pierced, so that I have
had to move into the chamber in which my sister died, and to
sleep in the very bed in which she slept. Imagine, then, my thrill
of terror when last night, as I lay awake, thinking over her
terrible fate, I suddenly heard in the silence of the night the low
whistle which had been the herald of her own death. I sprang up
and lit the lamp, but nothing was to be seen in the room. I was
too shaken to go to bed again, however, so I dressed, and as
soon as it was daylight I slipped down, got a dog-cart at the
Crown Inn, which is opposite, and drove to Leatherhead, from
whence I have come on this morning with the one object of
seeing you and asking your advice."
  "You have done wisely," said my friend. "But have you told
me all?"
  "Yes, all."
  "Miss Roylott, you have not. You are screening your
  "Why, what do you mean?"
  For answer Holmes pushed back the frill of black lace which
fringed the hand that lay upon our visitor's knee. Five little livid
spots, the marks of four fingers and a thumb, were printed upon
the white wrist.
  "You have been cruelly used," said Holmes.
  The lady coloured deeply and covered over her injured wrist.
"He is a hard man," she said, "and perhaps he hardly knows
his own strength."
  There was a long silence, during which Holmes leaned his
chin upon his hands and stared into the crackling fire.
  "This is a very deep business," he said at last. "There are a
thousand details which I should desire to know before I decide
upon our course of action. Yet we have not a moment to lose. If
we were to come to Stoke Moran to-day, would it be possible for
us to see over these rooms without the knowledge of your
  "As it happens, he spoke of coming into town to-day upon
some most important business. It is probable that he will be
away all day, and that there would be nothing to disturb you. We
have a housekeeper now, but she is old and foolish, and I could
easily get her out of the way."
  "Excellent. You are not averse to this trip, Watson?"
  "By no means."
  "Then we shall both come. What are you going to do yourself?"
  "I have one or two things which I would wish to do now that I
am in town. But I shall return by the twelve o'clock train, so as
to be there in time for your coming."
  "And you may expect us early in the afternoon. I have myself
some small business matters to attend to. Will you not wait and
  "No, I must go. My heart is lightened already since I have
confided my trouble to you. I shall look forward to seeing you
again this afternoon." She dropped her thick black veil over her
face and glided from the room.
  "And what do you think of it all, Watson?" asked Sherlock
Holmes, leaning back in his chair.
  "It seems to me to be a most dark and sinister business."
  "Dark enough and sinister enough."
  "Yet if the lady is correct in saying that the flooring and walls
are sound, and that the door, window, and chimney are impass-
able, then her sister must have been undoubtedly alone when she
met her mysterious end."
  "What becomes, then, of these nocturnal whistles, and what
of the very peculiar words of the dying woman?"
  "I cannot think."
  "When you combine the ideas of whistles at night, the pres-
ence of a band of gypsies who are on intimate terms with this old
doctor, the fact that we have every reason to believe that the
doctor has an interest in preventing his stepdaughter's marriage,
the dying allusion to a band, and, finally, the fact that Miss
Helen Stoner heard a metallic clang, which might have been
caused by one of those metal bars that secured the shutters
falling back into its place, I think that there is good ground to
think that the mystery may be cleared along those lines."
  "But what, then, did the gypsies do?"
  "I cannot imagine."
  "I see many objections to any such theory."
  "And so do I. It is precisely for that reason that we are going
to Stoke Moran this day. I want to see whether the objections are
fatal, or if they may be explained away. But what in the name of
the devil!"
  The ejaculation had been drawn from my companion by the
fact that our door had been suddenly dashed open, and that a
huge man had framed himself in the aperture. His costume was a
peculiar mixture of the professional and of the agricultural,
having a black top-hat, a long frock-coat, and a pair of high
gaiters, with a hunting-crop swinging in his hand. So tall was he
that his hat actually brushed the cross bar of the- doorway, and
his breadth seemed to span it across from side to side. A large
face, seared with a thousand wrinkles, burned yellow with the
sun, and marked with every evil passion, was turned from one to
the other of us, while his deep-set, bile-shot eyes, and his high,
thin, fleshless nose, gave him somewhat the resemblance to a
fierce old bird of prey.
  "Which of you is Holmes?" asked this apparition.
  "My name, sir; but you have the advantage of me," said my
companion quietly.
  "I am Dr. Grimesby Roylott, of Stoke Moran."
  "Indeed, Doctor," said Holmes blandly. "Pray take a seat."
  "I will do nothing of the kind. My stepdaughter has been
here. I have traced her. What has she been saying to you?"
  "It is a little cold for the time of the year," said Holmes.
  "What has she been saying to you?" screamed the old man
  "But I have heard that the crocuses promise well," continued
my companion imperturbably.
  "Ha! You put me off, do you?" said our new visitor, taking a
step forward and shaking his hunting-crop. "I know you, you
scoundrel! I have heard of you before. You are Holmes, the
  My friend smiled.
  "Holmes, the busybody!"
  His smile broadened.
  "Holmes, the Scotland Yard Jack-in-office!"
  Holmes chuckled heartily. "Your conversation is most enter-
taining," said he. "When you go out close the door, for there is
a decided draught."
  "I will go when I have said my say. Don't you dare to meddle
with my affairs. I know that Miss Stoner has been here. I traced
her! I am a dangerous man to fall foul of! See here." He stepped
swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into a curve with
his huge brown hands.
  "See that you keep yourself out of my grip," he snarled, and
hurling the twisted poker into the fireplace he strode out of the
  "He seems a very amiable person," said Holmes, laughing.
"I am not quite so bulky, but if he had remained I might have
shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his
own." As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and, with a
sudden effort, straightened it out again.
  "Fancy his having the insolence to confound me with the
official detective force! This incident gives zest to our investiga-
tion, however, and I only trust that our little friend will not
suffer from her imprudence in allowing this brute to trace her.
And now, Watson, we shall order breakfast, and afterwards I
shall walk down to Doctors' Commons, where I hope to get
some data which may help us in this matter."

  It was nearly one o'clock when Sherlock Holmes returned
from his excursion. He held in his hand a sheet of blue paper,
scrawled over with notes and figures.
  "I have seen the will of the deceased wife," said he. "To
determine its exact meaning I have been obliged to work out the
present prices of the investments with which it is concerned. The
total income, which at the time of the wife's death was little
short of 1100 pounds, is now, through the fall in agricultural prices,
not more than 750 pounds. Each daughter can claim an income of
250 pounds, in case of marriage. It is evident, therefore, that if both
girls had married, this beauty would have had a mere pittance,
while even one of them would cripple him to a very serious
extent. My morning's work has not been wasted, since it has
proved that he has the very strongest motives for standing in the
way of anything of the sort. And now, Watson, this is too
serious for dawdling, especially as the old man is aware that we
are interesting ourselves in his affairs; so if you are ready, we
shall call a cab and drive to Waterloo. I should be very much
obliged if you would slip your revolver into your pocket. An
Eley's No. 2 is an excellent argument with gentlemen who can
twist steel pokers into knots. That and a tooth-brush are, I think
all that we need."
  At Waterloo we were fortunate in catching a train for
Leatherhead, where we hired a trap at the station inn and drove
for four or five miles through the lovely Surrey laries. It was a
perfect day, with a bright sun and a few fleecy clouds in the
heavens. The trees and wayside hedges were just throwing out
their first green shoots, and the air was full of the pleasant smell
of the moist earth. To me at least there was a strange contrast
between the sweet promise of the spring and this sinister quest
upon which we were engaged. My companion sat in the front of
the trap, his arms folded, his hat pulled down over his eyes, and
his chin sunk upon his breast, buried in the deepest thought.
Suddenly, however, he started, tapped me on the shoulder, and
pointed over the meadows
  "Look there!" said he.
  A heavily timbered park stretched up in a gentle slope, thick-
ening mto a grove at the highest point. From amid the branches
there jutted out the gray gables and high roof-tree of a very old
  "Stoke Moran?" said he.
  "Yes, sir, that be the house of Dr. Grimesby Roylott,"
remarked the driver.
  "There is some building going on there," said Holmes; "that
is where we are going."
  "There's the village," said the driver, pointing to a cluster of
roofs some distance to the left; "but if you want to get to the
house, you'll find it shorter to get over this stile, and so by the
foot-path over the fields. There it is, where the lady is walking."
  "And the lady, I fancy, is Miss Stoner," observed Holmes,
shading his eyes. "Yes, I think we had better do as you suggest."
  We got off, paid our fare, and the trap rattled back on its way
to Leatherhead.
  "I thought it as well," said Holmes as we climbed the stile,
"that this fellow should think we had come here as architects, or
on some definite business. It may stop his gossip. Good-afternoon,
Miss Stoner. You see that we have been as good as our word."
  Our client of the morning had hurried forward to meet us with
a face which spoke her joy. "I have been waiting so eagerly for
you," she cried, shaking hands with us warmly. "All has turned
out splendidly. Dr. Roylott has gone to town, and it is unlikely
that he will be back before evening."
  "We have had the pleasure of making the doctor's acquaint-
ance," said Holmes, and in a few words he sketched out what
had occurred. Miss Stoner turned white to the lips as she listened.
  "Good heavens!" she cried, "he has followed me, then."
  "So it appears."
  "He is so cunning that I never know when I am safe from
him. What will he say when he returns?"
  "He must guard himself, for he may find that there is some-
one more cunning than himself upon his track. You must lock
yourself up from him to-night. If he is violent, we shall take you
away to your aunt's at Harrow. Now, we must make the best use
of our time, so kindly take us at once to the rooms which we are
to examine."
  The building was of gray, lichen-blotched stone, with a high
central portion and two curving wings, like the claws of a crab,
thrown out on each side. In one of these wings the windows
were broken and blocked with wooden boards, while the roof
was partly caved in, a picture of ruin. The central portion was in
little better repair, but the right-hand block was comparatively
modern, and the blinds in the windows, with the blue smoke
curling up from the chimneys, showed that this was where the
family resided. Some scaffolding had been erected against the
end wall, and the stone-work had been broken into, but there
were no signs of any workmen at the moment of our visit.
Holmes walked slowly up and down the ill-trimmed lawn and
examined with deep attention the outsides of the windows.
  "This, I take it, belongs to the room in which you used to
sleep, the centre one to your sister's, and the one next to the
main building to Dr. Roylott's chamber?"
  "Exactly so. But I am now sleeping in the middle one."
  "Pending the alterations, as I understand. By the way, there
does not seem to be any very pressing need for repairs at that end
  "There were none. I believe that it was an excuse to move me
from my room."
  "Ah! that is suggestive. Now, on the other side of this narrow
wing runs the corridor from which these three rooms open. There
are windows in it, of course?"

"Yes, but very small ones. Too narrow for anyone to pass
  "As you both locked your doors at night, your rooms were
unapproachable from that side. Now, would you have the kind-
ness to go into your room and bar your shutters?"
  Miss Stoner did so, and Holmes, after a careful examination
through the open window, endeavoured in every way to force the
shutter open, but without success. There was no slit through
which a knife could be passed to raise the bar. Then with his lens
he tested the hinges, but they were of solid iron, built firmly into
the massive masonry. "Hum!" said he, scratching his chin in
some perplexity, "my theory certainly presents some difficulties.
No one could pass these shutters if they were bolted. Well, we
shall see if the inside throws any light upon the matter."
  A small slde door led into the whitewashed corridor from
which the three bedrooms opened. Holmes refused to examine
the third chamber, so we passed at once to the second, that in
which Miss Stoner was now sleeping, and in which her sister had
met with her fate. It was a homely little room, with a low ceiling
and a gaping fireplace, after the fashion of old country-houses. A
brown chest of drawers stood in one corner, a narrow white-
counterpaned bed in another, and a dressing-table on the left-hand
side of the window. These articles, with two small wicker-work
chairs, made up all the furniture in the room save for a square of
Wilton carpet in the centre. The boards round and the panelling
of the walls were of brown, worm-eaten oak, so old and
discoloured that it may have dated from the original building of
the house. Holmes drew one of the chairs into a corner and sat
sllent, while his eyes travelled round and round and up and
down, taking in every detail of the apartment.
  "Where does that bell communicate with?" he asked at last
pointing to a thick belt-rope which hung down beside the bed,
the tassel actually lying upon the pi]low.
  "It goes to the housekeeper's room."
  "It looks newer than the other things?"
  "Yes, it was only put there a couple of years ago."
  "Your sister asked for it, I suppose?"
  "No, I never heard of her using it. We used always to get
what we wanted for ourselves."
  "Indeed, it seemed unnecessary to put so nice a bell-pull
there. You will excuse me for a few minutes while I satisfy
myself as to this floor." He threw himself down upon his face
with his lens in his hand and crawled swiftly backward and
forward, examining minutely the cracks between the boards.
Then he dld the same with the wood-work with which the
chamber was panelled. Finally he walked over to the bed and
spent some time in staring at it and in running his eye up and
down the wall. Finally he took the bell-rope in his hand and gave
it a brisk tug.
  "Why, it's a dummy," said he.
  "Won't it ring?"
  "No, it is not even attached to a wire. This is very interesting.
You can see now that it is fastened to a hook just above where
the little opening for the ventilator is."
  "How very absurd! I never noticed that before."
  "Very strange!" muttered Holmes, pulling at the rope. "There
are one or two very singular points about this room. For exam-
ple, what a fool a builder must be to open a ventilator into
another room, when, with the same trouble, he might have
communicated with the outside air!"
  "That is also quite modern," said the lady.
  "Done about the same time as the bell-rope?" remarked
  "Yes, there were severa} little changes carried out about that
  "They seem to have been of a most interesting character --
dummy bell-ropes, and ventilators which do not ventilate. With
your permission, Miss Stoner, we shall now carry our researches
into the inner apartment."
  Dr. Grimesby Roylott's chamber was larger than that of his
stepdaughter, but was as plainly furnished. A camp-bed, a small
wooden shelf full of books, mostly of a technical character an
armchair beside the bed, a plain wooden chair against the wail, a
round table, and a large iron safe were the principal things which
met the eye. Holmes walked slowly round and examined each
and all of them with the keenest interest.
  "What's in here?" he asked, tapping the safe.
  "My stepfather's business papers."
  "Oh! you have seen inside, then?"
  "Only once, some years ago. I remember that it was full of
  "There isn't a cat in it, for example?"
  "No. What a strange idea!"
  "Well, look at this!" He took up a small saucer of milk which
stood on the top of it.
  "No; we don't keep a cat. But there is a cheetah and a
  "Ah, yes, of course! Well, a cheetah is just a big cat, and yet
a saucer of milk does not go very far in satisfying its wants, I
daresay. There is one point which I should wish to determine."
He squatted down in front of the wooden chair and examined the
seat of it with the greatest attention.
  "Thank you. That is quite settled," said he, rising and putting
his lens in his pocket. "Hello! Here is something interesting!"
  The object which had caught his eye was a small dog lash
hung on one corner of the bed. The lash, however, was curled
upon itself and tied so as to make a loop of whipcord.
  "What do you make of that, Watson?"
  "It's a common enough lash. But I don't know why if should
be tied."
  "That is not quite so common, is it? Ah, me! it's a wicked
world, and when a clever man turns his brains to crime it is the
worst of all. I think that I have seen enough now, Miss Stoner,
and with your permission we shall walk out upon the lawn."
  I had never seen my friend's face so grim or his brow so dark
as it was when we turned from the scene of this investigation.
We had walked several times up and down the lawn, neither
Miss Stoner nor myself liking to break in upon his thoughts
before he roused himself from his reverie.
  "It is very essential, Miss Stoner," said he, "that you should
absolutely follow my advice in every respect."
  "I shall most certainly do so."
  "The matter is too serious for any hesitation. Your life may
depend upon your compliance."
  "I assure you that I am in your hands."
  "In the first place, both my friend and I must spend the night
in your room."
  Both Miss Stoner and I gazed at him in astonishment.
  "Yes, it must be so. Let me explain. I believe that that is the
village inn over there?"
  "Yes, that is the Crown."
  "Very good. Your windows would be visible from there?"
  "You must confine yourself to your room, on pretence of a
headache, when your stepfather comes back. Then when you
hear him retire for the night, you must open the shutters of your
window, undo the hasp, put your lamp there as a signal to us,
and then withdraw quietly with everything which you are likely
to want into the room which you used to occupy. I have no doubt
that, in spite of the repairs, you could manage there for one
  "Oh, yes, easily."
  "The rest you will leave in our hands."
  "But what will you do?"
  "We shall spend the night in your room, and we shall investi-
gate the cause of this noise which has disturbed you."
  "I believe, Mr. Holmes, that you have already made up your
mind," said Miss Stoner, laying her hand upon my companion's
  "Perhaps I have."
  "Then, for pity's sake, tell me what was the cause of my
sister's death."
  "I should prefer to have clearer proofs before I speak."
  "You can at least tell me whether my own thought is correct,
and if she died from some sudden fright."
  "No, I do not think so. I think that there was probably some
more tangible cause. And now, Miss Stoner, we must leave you
for if Dr. Roylott returned and saw us our journey would be in
vain. Good-bye, and be brave, for if you will do what I have told
you you may rest assured that we shall soon drive away the
dangers that threaten you."
  Sherlock Holmes and I had no difficulty in engaging a bed-
room and sitting-room at the Crown Inn. They were on the upper
floor, and from our window we could command a view of the
avenue gate, and of the inhabited wing of Stoke Moran Manor
House. At dusk we saw Dr. Grimesby Roylott drive past, his
huge form looming up beside the little figure of the lad who
drove him. The boy had some slight difficulty in undoing the
heavy iron gates, and we heard the hoarse roar of the doctor's
voice and saw the fury with which he shook his clinched fists at
him. The trap drove on, and a few minutes later we saw a
sudden light spring up among the trees as the lamp was lit in one
of the sitting-rooms.
  "Do you know, Watson," said Holmes as we sat together in
the gathering darkness, "I have really some scruples as to taking
you to-night. There is a distinct element of danger."
  "Can I be of assistance?"
  "Your presence might be invaluable."
  "Then I shall certainly come."
  "It is very kind of you."
  "You speak of danger. You have evidently seen more in these
rooms than was visible to me."
  "No, but I fancy that I may have deduced a little more. I
imagine that you saw all that I did."
  "I saw nothing remarkable save the bell-rope, and what purpose
that could answer I confess is more than I can imagine."
  "You saw the ventilator, too?"
  "Yes, but I do not think that it is such a very unusual thing to
have a small opening between two rooms. It was so small that a
rat could hardly pass through."
  "I knew that we should find a ventilator before ever we came
to Stoke Moran."
  "My dear Holmes!"
  "Oh, yes, I did. You remember in her statement she said that
her sister could smell Dr. Roylott's cigar. Now, of course that
suggested at once that there must be a communication between
the two rooms. It could only be a small one, or it would have
been remarked upon at the coroner's inquiry. I deduced a
  "But what harm can there be in that?"
  "Well, there is at least a curious coincidence of dates. A
ventilator is made, a cord is hung, and a lady who sleeps in the
bed dies. Does not that strike you?"
  "I cannot as yet see any connection."
  "Did you observe anything very peculiar about that bed?"
  "It was clamped to the floor. Did you ever see a bed fastened
like that before?"
  "I cannot say that I have."
  "The lady could not move her bed. It must always be in the
same relative position to the ventilator and to the rope -- or so we
may call it, since it was clearly never meant for a bell-pull."
  "Holmes," I cried, "I seem to see dimly what you are hinting
at. We are only just in time to prevent some subtle and horrible
  "Subtle enough and horrible enough. When a doctor does go
wrong he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has
knowledge. Palmer and Pritchard were among the heads of their
profession. This man strikes even deeper, but I think, Watson,
that we shall be able to strike deeper still. But we shall have
horrors enough before the night is over; for goodness' sake let us
have a quiet pipe and turn our minds for a few hours to some-
thing more cheerful."

                         * * *

  About nine o'clock the light among the trees was extinguished,
and all was dark in the direction of the Manor House. Two hours
passed slowly away, and then, suddenly, just at the stroke of
eleven, a single bright light shone out right in front of us.
  "That is our signal," said Holmes, springing to his feet; "it
comes from the middle window."
  As we passed out he exchanged a few words with the land-
lord, explaining that we were going on a late visit to an acquaint-
ance, and that it was possible that we might spend the night
there. A moment later we were out on the dark road, a chill wind
blowing in our faces, and one yellow light twinkling in front of
us through the gloom to guide us on our sombre errand.
  There was little difficulty in entering the grounds, for unre-
paired breaches gaped in the old park wall. Making our way
among the trees, we reached the lawn, crossed it, and were about
to enter through the window when out from a clump of laurel
bushes there darted what seemed to be a hideous and distorted
child, who threw itself upon the grass with writhing limbs and
then ran swiftly across the lawn into the darkness.
  "My God!" I whispered; "did you see it?"
  Holmes was for the moment as startled as I. His hand closed
like a vise upon my wrist in his agitation. Then he broke into a
low laugh and put his lips to my ear.
  "It is a nice household," he murmured. "That is the baboon."
  I had forgotten the strange pets which the doctor affected.
There was a cheetah, too; perhaps we might find it upon our
shoulders at any moment. I confess that I felt easier in my mind
when, after following Holmes's example and slipping off my
shoes, I found myself inside the bedroom. My companion noise-
lessly closed the shutters, moved the lamp onto the table, and
cast his eyes round the room. All was as we had seen it in the
daytime. Then creeping up to me and making a trumpet of his
hand, he whispered into my ear again so gently that it was all
that I could do to distinguish the words:
  "The least sound would be fatal to our plans."
  I nodded to show that I had heard.
  "We must sit without light. He would see it through the
  I nodded again.
  "Do not go asleep; your very life may depend upon it. Have
your pistol ready in case we should need it. I will sit on the side
of the bed, and you in that chair."
  I took out my revolver and laid it on the corner of the table.
  Holmes had brought up a long thin cane, and this he placed
upon the bed beside him. By it he laid the box of matches and
the stump of a candle. Then he turned down the lamp, and we
were left in darkness.
  How shall I ever forget that dreadful vigil? I could not hear a
sound, not even the drawing of a breath, and yet I knew that my
companion sat open-eyed, within a few feet of me, in the same
state of nervous tension in which I was myself. The shutters cut
off the least ray of light, and we waited in absolute darkness.
From outside came the occasional cry of a night-bird, and once
at our very window a long drawn catlike whine, which told us
that the cheetah was indeed at liberty. Far away we could hear
the deep tones of the parish clock, which boomed out every
quarter of an hour. How long they seemed, those quarters!
Twelve struck, and one and two and three, and still we sat
waiting silently for whatever might befall.
  Suddenly there was the momentary gleam of a light up in the
direction of the ventilator, which vanished immediately, but was
succeeded by a strong smell of burning oil and heated metal.
Someone in the next room had lit a dark-lantern. I heard a gentle
sound of movement, and then all was silent once more, though
the smell grew stronger. For half an hour I sat with straining
ears. Then suddenly another sound became audible -- a very gen-
tle, soothing sound, like that of a small jet of steam escaping
continually from a kettle. The instant that we heard it, Holmes
sprang from the bed, struck a match, and lashed furiously with
his cane at the bell-pull.
  "You see it, Watson?" he yelled. "You see it?"
  But I saw nothing. At the moment when Holmes struck the
light I heard a low, clear whistle, but the sudden glare flashing
into my weary eyes made it impossible for me to tell what it was
at which my friend lashed so savagely. I could, however, see
that his face was deadly pale and filled with horror and loathing.-
  He had ceased to strike and was gazing up at the ventilator
when suddenly there broke from the silence of the night the most
horrible cry to which I have ever listened. It swelled up louder
and louder, a hoarse yell of pain and fear and anger all mingled
in the one dreadful shriek. They say that away down in the
village, and even in the distant parsonage, that cry raised the
sleepers from their beds. It struck cold to our hearts, and I stood
gazing at Holmes, and he at me, until the last echoes of it had
died away into the silence from which it rose.
  "What can it mean?" I gasped.
  "It means that it is all over," Holmes answered. "And per-
haps, after all, it is for the best. Take your pistol, and we will
enter Dr. Roylott's room."
  With a grave face he lit the lamp and led the way down the
corridor. Twice he struck at the chamber door without any reply
from within. Then he turned the handle and entered, I at his
heels, with the cocked pistol in my hand.
  It was a singular sight which met our eyes. On the table stood
a dark-lantern with the shutter half open, throwing a brilliant
beam of light upon the iron safe, the door of which was ajar.
Beside this table, on the wooden chair, sat Dr. Grimesby Roylott
clad in a long gray dressing-gown, his bare ankles protruding
beneath, and his feet thrust into red heelless Turkish slippers.
Across his lap lay the short stock with the long lash which we
had noticed during the day. His chin was cocked upward and his
eyes were fixed in a dreadful, rigid stare at the corner of the
ceiling. Round his brow he had a peculiar yellow band, with
brownish speckles, which seemed to be bound tightly round his
head. As we entered he made neither sound nor motion.
  "The band! the speckled band!" whispered Holmes.
  I took a step forward. In an instant his strange headgear began
to move, and there reared itself from among his hair the squat
diamond-shaped head and puffed neck of a loathsome serpent.
  "It is a swamp adder!" cried Holmes; "the deadliest snake in
India. He has died within ten seconds of being bitten. Violence
does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into
the pit which he digs for another. Let us thrust this creature back
into its den, and we can then remove Miss Stoner to some place
of shelter and let the county police know what has happened."

As he spoke he drew the dog-whip swiftly from the dead
man's lap, and throwing the noose round the reptile's neck he
drew it from its horrid perch and, carrying it at arm's length,
threw it into the iron safe, which he closed upon it.

Such are the true facts of the death of Dr. Grimesby Roylott,
of Stoke Moran. It is not necessary that I should prolong a
narrative which has already run to too great a length by telling
how we broke the sad news to the terrified girl, how we con-
veyed her by the morning train to the care of her good aunt at
Harrow, of how the slow process of official inquiry came to the
conclusion that the doctor met his fate while indiscreetly playing
with a dangerous pet. The little which I had yet to learn of the
case was told me by Sherlock Holmes as we travelled back next
  "I had," said he, "come to an entirely erroneous conclusion
which shows, my dear Watson, how dangerous it always is to
reason from insufficient data. The presence of the gypsies, and
the use of the word 'band,' which was used by the poor girl, no
doubt to explain the appearance which she had caught a hurried
glimpse of by the light of her match, were sufficient to put me
upon an entirely wrong scent. I can only claim the merit that I
instantly reconsidered my position when, however, it became
clear to me that whatever danger threatened an occupant of the
room could not come either from the window or the door. My
attention was speedily drawn, as I have already remarked to you,
to this ventilator, and to the bell-rope which hung down to the
bed. The discovery that this was a dummy, and that the bed was
clamped to the floor, instantly gave rise to the suspicion that the
rope was there as a bridge for something passing through the
hole and coming to the bed. The idea of a snake instantly
occurred to me, and when I coupled it with my knowledge that
the doctor was furnished with a supply of creatures from India, I
felt that I was probably on the right track. The idea of using a
form of poison which could not possibly be discovered by any
chemical test was just such a one as would occur to a clever and
ruthless man who had had an Eastern training. The rapidity with
which such a poison would take effect would also, from his point
of view, be an advantage. It would be a sharp-eyed coroner,
indeed, who could distinguish the two little dark punctures which
would show where the poison fangs had done their work. Then I
thought of the whistle. Of course he must recall the snake before
the morning light revealed it to the victim. He had trained it,
probably by the use of the milk which we saw, to return to him
when summoned. He would put it through this ventilator at the
hour that he thought best, with the certainty that it would crawl
down the rope and land on the bed. It might or might not bite the
occupant, perhaps she might escape every night for a week, but
sooner or later she must fall a victim.
  "I had come to these conclusions before ever I had entered his
room. An inspection of his chair showed me that he had been in
the habit of standing on it, which of course would be necessary
in order that he should reach the ventilator. The sight of the safe,
the saucer of milk, and the loop of whipcord were enough to
finally dispel any doubts which may have remained. The metallic
clang heard by Miss Stoner was obviously caused by her stepfa-
ther hastily closing the door of his safe upon its terrible occu-
pant. Having once made up my mind, you know the steps which
I took in order to put the matter to the proof. I heard the creature
hiss as I have no doubt that you did also, and I instantly lit the
light and attacked it."
  "With the result of driving it through the ventilator."
  "And also with the result of causing it to turn upon its master
at the other side. Some of the blows of my cane came home and
roused its snakish temper, so that it flew upon the first person it
saw. In this way I am no doubt indirectly responsible for Dr.
Grimesby Roylott's death, and I cannot say that it is likely to
weigh very heavily upon my conscience."

           The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb

  Of all the problems which have been submitted to my friend,
Mr. Sherlock Holmes, for solution during the years of our
intimacy, there were only two which I was the means of intro-
ducing to his notice -- that of Mr. Hatherley's thumb, and that of
Colonel Warburton's madness. Of these the latter may have
afforded a finer field for an acute and original observer, but the
other was so strange in its inception and so dramatic in its details
that it may be the more worthy of being placed upon record,
even if it gave my friend fewer openings for those deductive
methods of reasoning by which he achieved such remarkable
results. The story has, I believe, been told more than once in the
newspapers, but, like all such narratives, its effect is much less
striking when set forth en bloc in a single half-column of print
than when the facts slowly evolve before your own eyes, and the
mystery clears gradually away as each new discovery furnishes a
step which leads on to the complete truth. At the time the
circumstances made a deep impression upon me, and the lapse of
two years has hardly served to weaken the effect.
  It was in the summer of '89, not long after my marriage, that
the events occurred which I am now about to summarize. I had
returned to civil practice and had finally abandoned Holmes in
his Baker Street rooms, although I continually visited him and
occasionally even persuaded him to forgo his Bohemian habits
so far as to come and visit us. My practice had steadily in-
creased, and as I happened to live at no very great distance from
Paddington Station, I got a few patients from among the offi-
cials. One of these, whom I had cured of a painful and lingering
disease, was never weary of advertising my virtues and of en-
deavouring to send me on every sufferer over whom he might
have any influence.
  One morning, at a little before seven o'clock, I was awakened
by the maid tapping at the door to announce that two men had
come from Paddington and were waiting in the consulting-room.
I dressed hurriedly, for I knew by experience that railway cases
were seldom trivial, and hastened downstairs. As I descended,
my old ally, the guard, came out of the room and closed the door
tightly behind him.
  "I've got him here," he whispered, jerking his thumb over his
shoulder; "he's all right."
  "What is it, then?" I asked, for his manner suggested that it
was some strange creature which he had caged up in my room.
  "It's a new patient," he whispered. "I thought I'd bring him
round myself; then he couldn't slip away. There he is, all safe
and sound. I must go now, Doctor; I have my dooties, just the
same as you." And off he went, this trusty tout, without even
giving me time to thank him.
  I entered my consulting-room and found a gentleman seated
by the table. He was quietly dressed in a suit of heather tweed
with a soft cloth cap which he had laid down upon my books.
Round one of his hands he had a handkerchief wrapped, which
was mottled all over with bloodstains. He was young, not more
than five-and-twenty, I should say, with a strong, masculine
face; but he was exceedingly pale and gave me the impression of
a man who was suffering from some strong agitation, which it
took all his strength of mind to control.
  "I am sorry to knock you up so early, Doctor," said he, "but
I have had a very serious accident during the night. I came in by
train this morning, and on inquiring at Paddington as to where I
might find a doctor, a worthy fellow very kindly escorted me
here. I gave the maid a card, but I see that she has left it upon
the side-table."

I took it up and glanced at it. "Mr. Victor Hatherley, hydrau-
iic engineer, 1 6A. Victoria Street (3d floor) . " That was the
name, style, and abode of my morning visitor. "I regret that I
have kept you waiting," said I, sitting down in my library-chair.
"You are fresh from a night journey, I understand, which is in
itself a monotonous occupation."
  "Oh, my night could not be called monotonous," said he, and
laughed. He laughed very heartily, with a high, ringing note,
leaning back in his chair and shaking his sides. All my medical
instincts rose up against that laugh.
  "Stop it!" I cried; "pull yourself together!" and I poured out
some water from a carafe.
  It was useless, however. He was off in one of those hysterical
outbursts which come upon a strong nature when some great
crisis is over and gone. Presently he came to himself once more,
very weary and pale-looking.
  "I have been making a fool of myself," he gasped.
  "Not at ail. Drink this." I dashed some brandy into the water,
and the colour began to come back to his bloodless cheeks.
  "That's better!" said he. "And now, Doctor, perhaps you
would kindly attend to my thumb, or rather to the place where
my thumb used to be."
  He unwound the handkerchief and held out his hand. It gave
even my hardened nerves a shudder to look at it. There were four
protruding fingers and a horrid red, spongy surface where the
thumb should have been. It had been hacked or torn right out
from the roots.
  "Good heavens!" I cried, "this is a terrible injury. It must
have bled considerably."
  "Yes, it did. I fainted when it was done, and I think that I
must have been senseless for a long time. When I came to I
found that it was still bleeding, sol tied one end of my handker-
chief very tightly round the wrist and braced it up with a twig."
  "Excellent! You should have been a surgeon."
  "It is a question of hydraulics, you see, and came within my
own province."
  "This has been done," said I, examining the wound, "by a
very heavy and sharp instrument."
  "A thing like a cleaver," said he.
  "An accident, I presume?"
  "By no means."
  "What! a murderous attack?''
  "Very murderous indeed."
  "You horrify me."
  I sponged the wound, cleaned it, dressed it, and finally cov-
ered it over with cotton wadding and carbolized bandages. He
lay back without wincing, though he bit his lip from time to
  "How is that?" I asked when I had finished.
  "Capital! Between your brandy and your bandage, I feel a
new man. I was very weak, but I have had a good deal to go
  "Perhaps you had better not speak of the matter. It is evi-
dently trying to your nerves."
  "Oh, no, not now. I shall have to tell my tale to the police;
but, between ourselves, if it were not for the convincing evi-
dence of this wound of mine, I should be surprised if they
believed my statement, for it is a very extraordinary one, and I
have not much in the way of proof with which to back it up; and,
even if they believe me, the clues which I can give them are so
vague that it is a question whether justice will be done."
  "Ha!" cried I, "if it is anything in the nature of a problem
which you desire to see solved, I should strongly recommend
you to come to my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, before you go
to the official police."
  "Oh, I have heard of that fellow," answered my visitor, "and
I should be very glad if he would take the matter up, though of
course I must use the official police as well. Would you give me
an introduction to him?"
  "I'll do better. I'll take you round to him myself."
  "I should be immensely obliged to you."
  "We'll call a cab and go together. We shall just be in time to
have a little breakfast with him. Do you feel equal to it?"
  "Yes; I shall not feel easy until I have told my story."
  "Then my servant will call a cab, and I shall be with you in
an instant." I rushed upstairs, explained the matter shortly to my
wife, and in five minutes was inside a hansom, driving with my
new acquaintance to Baker Street.
  Sherlock Holmes was, as I expected, lounging about his sitting-
room in his dressing-gown, reading the agony column of The
Times and smoking his before-breakfast pipe, which was com-
posed of all the plugs and dottles left from his smokes of the day
before, all carefully dried and collected on the corner of the
mantelpiece. He received us in his quietly genial fashion, or-
dered fresh rashers and eggs, and joined us in a hearty meal.
When it was concluded he settled our new acquaintance upon
the sofa, placed a pillow beneath his head, and laid a glass of
brandy and water within his reach.
  "It is easy to see that your experience has been no common
one, Mr. Hatherley," said he. "Pray, lie down there and make
yourself absolutely at home. Tell us what you can, but stop when
you are tired and keep up your strength with a little stimulant."
  "Thank you," said my patient. "but I have felt another man
since the doctor bandaged me, and I think that your breakfast has
completed the cure. I shall take up as little of your valuable time
as possible, so l shall start at once upon my peculiar experiences."
  Holmes sat in his big armchair with the weary, heavy-lidded
expression which veiled his keen and eager nature, while I sat
opposite to him, and we listened in silence to the strange story
which our visitor detailed to us.
  "You must know," said he, "that I am an orphan and a
bachelor, residing alone in lodgings in London. By profession I
am a hydraulic engineer, and I have had considerable experience
of my work during the seven years that I was apprenticed to
Venner & Matheson, the well-known firm, of Greenwich. Two
years ago, having served my time, and having also come into a
fair sum of money through my poor father's death, I determined
to start in business for myself and took professional chambers in
Victoria Street.
  "I suppose that everyone finds his first independent start in
business a dreary experience. To me it has been exceptionally
so. During two years I have had three consultations and one
small job, and that is absolutely all that my profession has
brought me. My gross takings amount to 27 pounds lOs. Every day,
from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon, I waited in
my little den, until at last my heart began to sink, and I came to
believe that I should never have any practice at all.
  "Yesterday, however, just as I was thinking of leaving the
office, my clerk entered to say there was a gentleman waiting
who wished to see me upon business. He brought up a card, too,
with the name of 'Colonel Lysander Stark' engraved upon it.
Close at his heels came the colonel himself, a man rather over
the middle size, but of an exceeding thinness. I do not think that
I have ever seen so thin a man. His whole face sharpened away
into nose and chin, and the skin of his cheeks was drawn quite
tense over his outstanding bones. Yet this emaciation seemed to
be his natural habit, and due to no disease, for his eye was
bright, his step brisk, and his bearing assured. He was plainly
but neatly dressed, and his age, I should judge, would be nearer
forty than thirty.
  " 'Mr. Hatherley?' said he, with something of a German
accent. 'You have been recommended to me, Mr. Hatherley, as
being a man who is not only proficient in his profession but is
also discreet and capable of preserving a secret.'
  "I bowed, feeling as flattered as any young man would at
such an address. 'May I ask who it was who gave me so good a
  " 'Well, perhaps it is better that I should not tell you that just
at this moment. I have it from the same source that you are both
an orphan and a bachelor and are residing alone in London.'
  " 'That is quite correct,' I answered; 'but you will excuse me
if I say that I cannot see how all this bears upon my professional
qualifications. I understand that it was on a professional matter
that you wished to speak to me?'
  " 'Undoubtedly so. But you will find that all I say is really to
the point. I have a professional commission for you, but absolute
secrecy is quite essential -- absolute secrecy, you understand, and
of course we may expect that more from a man who is alone than
from one who lives in the bosom of his family.'
  " 'If I promise to keep a secret,' said I, 'you may absolutely
depend upon my doing so.'
  "He looked very hard at me as I spoke, and it seemed to me
that I had never seen so suspicious and questioning an eye.
  " 'Do you promise, then?' said he at last.
  " 'Yes, I promise.'
  " 'Absolute and complete silence before, during, and after?
No reference to the matter at all, either in word or writing?'
  " 'I have already given you my word.'
  " 'Very good.' He suddenly sprang up, and darting like light-
ning across the room he flung open the door. The passage
outside was empty.
  " 'That's all right,' said he, coming back. 'I know the clerks
are sometimes curious as to their master's affairs. Now we can
talk in safety.' He drew up his chair very close to mine and
began to stare at me again with the same questioning and thought-
ful look.
  "A feeling of repulsion, and of something akin to fear had
begun to rise within me at the strange antics of this fleshless
man. Even my dread of losing a client could not restrain me
from showing my impatience.
  " 'I beg that you will state your business, sir,' said l; 'my
time is of value.' Heaven forgive me for that last sentence, but
the words came to my lips.
  " 'How would fifty guineas for a night's work suit you?' he
  " 'Most admirably.'
  " 'I say a night's work, but an hour's would be nearer the
mark. I simply want your opinion about a hydraulic stamping
machine which has got out of gear. If you show us what is
wrong we shall soon set it right ourselves. What do you think of
such a commission as that?'
  " 'The work appears to be light and the pay munificent.'
  " 'Precisely so. We shall want you to come to-night by the
last train.'
  " 'Where to?'
  " 'To Eyford, in Berkshire. It is a little place near the borders
of Oxfordshire, and within seven miles of Reading. There is a
train from Paddington which would bring you there at about
  " 'Very good.'
  " 'I shall come down in a carriage to meet you.'
  " 'There is a drive, then?'
  " 'Yes, our little place is quite out in the country. It is a good
seven miles from Eyford Station.'
  " 'Then we can hardly get there before midnight. I suppose
there would be no chance of a train back. I should be compelled
to stop the night.'
  " 'Yes, we could easily give you a shake-down.'
  " 'That is very awkward. Could I not come at some more
convenient hour?'
  " 'We have judged it best that you should come late. It is to
recompense you for any inconvenience that we are paying to
you, a young and unknown man, a fee which would buy an
opinion from the very heads of your profession. Still, of course,
if you would like to draw out of the business, there is plenty of
time to do so.'
  "I thought of the fifty guineas, and of how very useful they
would be to me. 'Not at all,' said I, 'I shall be very happy to
accommodate myself to your wishes. I should like, however, to
understand a little more clearly what it is that you wish me to do.'
  " 'Quite so. It is very natural that the pledge of secrecy which
we have exacted from you should have aroused your curiosity. I
have no wish to commit you to anything without your having it
all laid before you. I suppose that we are absolutely safe from
  " 'Entirely.'
  " 'Then the matter stands thus. You are probably aware that
fuller's-earth is a valuable product, and that it is only found in
one or two places in England?'
  " 'I have heard so.'
  " 'Some little time ago I bought a small place -- a very small
place -- within ten miles of Reading. I was fortunate enough to
discover that there was a deposit of fuller's-earth in one of my
fields. On examining it, however, I found that this deposit was a
comparatively small one, and that it formed a link between two
very much larger ones upon the right and left -- both of them,
however, in the grounds of my neighbours. These good people
were absolutely ignorant that their land contained that which was
quite as valuable as a gold-mine. Naturally, it was to my interest
to buy their land before they discovered its true value, but
unfortunately I had no capital by which I could do this. I took a
few of my friends into the secret, however, and they suggested
that we should quietly and secretly work our own little deposit
and that in this way we should earn the money which would
enable us to buy the neighbouring fields. This we have now been
doing for some time, and in order to help us in our operations we
erected a hydraulic press. This press, as I have already ex-
plained, has got out of order, and we wish your advice upon the
subject. We guard our secret very jealously, however, and if it
once became known that we had hydraulic engineers coming to
our little house, it would soon rouse inquiry, and then, if the
facts came out, it would be good-bye to any chance of getting
these fields and carrying out our plans. That is why I have made
you promise me that you will not tell a human being that you are
going to Eyford to-night. I hope that I make it all plain?'
  " 'I quite follow you,' said I. 'The only point which I could
not quite understand was what use you could make of a hydraulic
press in excavating fuller's-earth, which, as I understand, is dug
out like gravel from a pit.'
  " 'Ah!' said he carelessly, 'we have our own process. We
compress the earth into bricks, so as to remove them without
revealing what they are. But that is a mere detail. I have taken
you fully into my confidence now, Mr. Hatherley, and I have
shown you how I trust you.' He rose as he spoke. 'I shall expect
you, then, at Eyford at 11:15.'
  " 'I shall certainly be there.'
  " 'And not a word to a soul.' He looked at me with a last
long, questioning gaze, and then, pressing my hand in a cold,
dank grasp, he hurried from the room.
  "Well, when I came to think it all over in cool blood I was
very much astonished, as you may both think, at this sudden
commission which had been intrusted to me. On the one hand, of
course, I was glad, for the fee was at least tenfold what I should
have asked had I set a price upon my own services, and it was
possible that this order might lead to other ones. On the other
hand, the face and manner of my patron had made an unpleasant
impression upon me, and I could not think that his explanation of
the fuller's-earth was sufficient to explain the necessity for my
coming at midnight, and his extreme anxiety lest I should tell
anyone of my errand. However, I threw all fears to the winds,
ate a hearty supper, drove to Paddington, and started off, having
obeyed to the letter the injunction as to holding my tongue.
  "At Reading I had to change not only my carriage but my
station. However, I was in time for the last train to Eyford, and I
reached the little dim-lit station aher eleven o'clock. I was the
only passenger who got out there, and there was no one upon the
platform save a single sleepy porter with a lantern. As I passed
out through the wicket gate, however, I found my acquaintance
of the morning waiting in the shadow upon the other side.
Without a word he grasped my arm and hurried me into a
carriage, the door of which was standing open. He drew up the
windows on either side, tapped on the wood-work, and away we
went as fast as the horse could go."
  "One horse?" interjected Holmes.
  "Yes, only one."
  "Did you observe the colour?"
  "Yes, I saw it by the side-lights when I was stepping into the
carriage. It was a chestnut."
  "Tired-looking or fresh?"
  "Oh, fresh and glossy."
  "Thank you. I am sorry to have interrupted you. Pray con-
tinue your most interesting statement."
  "Away we went then, and we drove for at least an hour.
Colonel Lysander Stark had said that it was only seven miles,
but I should think, from the rate that we seemed to go, and from
the time that we took, that it must have been nearer twelve. He
sat at my side in silence all the time, and I was aware, more than
once when I glanced in his direction, that he was looking at me
with great intensity. The country roads seem to be not very good
in that part of the world, for we lurched and jolted terribly. I
tried to look out of the windows to see something of where we
were, but they were made of frosted glass, and I could make out
nothing save the occasional bright blur of a passing light. Now
and then I hazarded some remark to break the monotony of the
journey, but the colonel answered only in monosyllables, and the
conversation soon flagged. At last, however, the bumping of the
road was exchanged for the crisp smoothness of a gravel-drive,
and the carriage came to a stand. Colonel Lysander Stark sprang
out, and, as I followed after him, pulled me swiftly into a porch
which gaped in front of us. We stepped, as it were, right out of
the carriage and into the hall, so that I failed to catch the most
fleeting glance of the front of the house. The instant that I had
crossed the threshold the door slammed heavily behind us, and I
heard faintly the rattle of the wheels as the carriage drove away.
  "It was pitch dark inside the house, and the colonel fumbled
about looking for matches and muttering under his breath. Sud-
denly a door opened at the other end of the passage, and a long,
golden bar of light shot out in our direction. It grew broader, and
a woman appeared with a lamp in her hand, which she held
above her head, pushing her face forward and peering at us. I
could see that she was pretty, and from the gloss with which the
light shone upon her dark dress I knew that it was a rich
material. She spoke a few words in a foreign tongue in a tone as
though asking a question, and when my companion answered in
a gruff monosyllable she gave such a start that the lamp nearly
fell from her hand. Colonel Stark went up to her, whispered
something in her ear, and then, pushing her back into the room
from whence she had come, he walked towards me again with
the lamp in his hand.
  " 'Perhaps you will have the kindness to wait in this room for
a few minutes,' said he, throwing open another door. It was a
quiet, little, plainly furnished room, with a round table in the
centre, on which several German books were scattered. Colonel
Stark laid down the lamp on the top of a harmonium beside the
door. 'I shall not keep you waiting an instant,' said he, and
vanished into the darkness.

"I glanced at the books upon the table, and in spite of my
ignorance of German I could see that two of them were treatises
on science, the others being volumes of poetry. Then I walked
across to the window, hoping that I might catch some glimpse of
the country-side, but an oak shutter, heavily barred, was folded
across it. It was a wonderfully silent house. There was an old
clock ticking loudly somewhere in the passage, but otherwise
everything was deadly still. A vague feeling of uneasiness began
to steal over me. Who were these German people, and what were
they doing living in this strange, out-of-the-way place? And
where was the place? I was ten miles or so from Eyford, that was
all I knew, but whether north, south, east, or west I had no idea.
For that matter, Reading, and possibly other large towns, were
within that radius, so the place might not be so secluded, after
all. Yet it was quite certain, from the absolute stillness, that we
were in the country. I paced up and down the room, humming a
tune under my breath to keep up my spirits and feeling that I was
thoroughly earning my fifty-guinea fee.
  "Suddenly, without any preliminary sound in the midst of the
utter stillness, the door of my room swung slowly open. The
woman was standing in the aperture, the darkness of the hall
behind her, the yellow light from my lamp beating upon her
eager and beautiful face. I could see at a glance that she was sick
with fear, and the sight sent a chill to my own heart. She held up
one shaking finger to warn me to be silent, and she shot a few
whispered words of broken English at me, her eyes glancing
back, like those of a frightened horse, into the gloom behind her.
  " 'I would go,' said she, trying hard, as it seemed to me, to
speak calmly; 'I would go. I should not stay here. There is no
good for you to do.'
  " 'But, madam,' said I, 'I have not yet done what I came for.
I cannot possibly leave until I have seen the machine.'
  " 'It is not worth your while to wait,' she went on. 'You can
pass through the door; no one hinders.' And then, seeing that I
smiled and shook my head, she suddenly threw aside her con-
straint and made a step forward, with her hands wrung together.
'For the love of Heaven!' she whispered, 'get away from here
before it is too late!'
  "But I am somewhat headstrong by nature, and the more
ready to engage in an affair when there is some obstacle in the
way. I thought of my fifty-guinea fee, of my wearisome journey,
and of the unpleasant night which seemed to be before me. Was
it all to go for nothing? Why should I slink away without having
carried out my commission, and without the payment which was
my due? This woman might, for all I knew, be a monomaniac.
With a stout bearing, therefore, though her manner had shaken
me more than I cared to confess, I still shook my head and
declared my intention of remaining where I was. She was about
to renew her entreaties when a door slammed overhead, and the
sound of several footsteps was heard upon the stairs. She listened
for an instant, threw up her hands with a despairing gesture, and
vanished as suddenly and as noiselessly as she had come.
  "The newcomers were Colonel Lysander Stark and a short
thick man with a chinchilla beard growing out of the creases of
his double chin, who was introduced to me as Mr. Ferguson.
  " 'This is my secretary and manager,' said the colonel. 'By
the way, I was under the impression that I left this door shut just
now. I fear that you have felt the draught.'
  " 'On the contrary,' said I, 'I opened the door myself because
I felt the room to be a little close.'
  "He shot one of his suspicious looks at me. 'Perhaps we had
better proceed to business, then,' said he. 'Mr. Ferguson and I
will take you up to see the machine.'
  " 'I had better put my hat on, I suppose.'
  " 'Oh, no, it is in the house.'
  " 'What, you dig fuller's-earth in the house?'
  " 'No, no. This is only where we compress it. But never mind
that. All we wish you to do is to examine the machine and to let
us know what is wrong with it.'
  "We went upstairs together, the colonel first with the lamp,
the fat manager and I behind him. It was a labyrinth of an old
house, with corridors, passages, narrow winding staircases, and
little low doors, the thresholds of which were hollowed out by
the generations who had crossed them. There were no carpets
and no signs of any furniture above the ground floor, while the
plaster was peeling off the walls, and the damp was breaking
through in green, unhealthy blotches. I tried to put on as uncon-
cerned an air as possible, but I had not forgotten the warnings of
the lady, even though I disregarded them, and I kept a keen eye
upon my two companions. Ferguson appeared to be a morose
and silent man, but I could see from the little that he said that he
was at least a fellow-countryman.
  "Colonel Lysander Stark stopped at last before a low door,
which he unlocked. Within was a small, square room, in which
the three of us could hardly get at one time. Ferguson remained
outside, and the colonel ushered me in.
  " 'We are now,' said he, 'actually within the hydraulic press,
and it would be a particularly unpleasant thing for us if anyone
were to turn it on. The ceiling of this small chamber is really the
end of the descending piston, and it comes down with the force
of many tons upon this metal floor. There are small lateral
columns of water outside which receive the force, and which
transmit and multiply it in the manner which is familiar to you.
The machine goes readily enough, but there is some stiffness in
the working of it, and it has lost a little of its force. Perhaps you
will have the goodness to look it over and to show us how we
can set it right.'
  "I took the lamp from him, and I examined the machine very
thoroughly. It was indeed a gigantic one, and capable of exercis-
ing enormous pressure. When I passed outside, however, and
pressed down the levers which controlled it, I knew at once by
the whishing sound that there was a slight leakage, which al-
lowed a regurgitation of water through one of the side cylinders.
An examination showed that one of the india-rubber bands which
was round the head of a driving-rod had shrunk so as not quite to
fill the socket along which it worked. This was clearly the cause
of the loss of power, and I pointed it out to my companions, who
followed my remarks very carefully and asked several practical
questions as to how they should proceed to set it right. When I
had made it clear to them, I returned to the main chamber of the
machine and took a good look at it to satisfy my own curiosity.
It was obvious at a glance that the story of the fuller's-earth was
the merest fabrication, for it would be absurd to suppose that so
powerful an engine could be designed for so inadequate a pur-
pose. The walls were of wood, but the floor consisted of a large
iron trough, and when I came to examine it I could see a crust of
metallic deposit all over it. I had stooped and was scraping at
this to see exactly what it was when I heard a muttered exclama-
tion in German and saw the cadaverous face of the colonel
looking down at me.
  " 'What are you doing there?' he asked.
  "I felt angry at having been tricked by so elaborate a story as
that which he had told me. 'I was admiring your fuller's-earth,'
said I; 'I think that I should be better able to advise you as to
your machine if I knew what the exact purpose was for which it
was used.'
  "The instant that I uttered the words I regretted the rashness
of my speech. His face set hard, and a baleful light sprang up in
his gray eyes.
  " 'Very well,' said he, 'you shall know all about the ma-
chine.' He took a step backward, slammed the little door, and
turned the key in the lock. I rushed towards it and pulled at the
handle, but it was quite secure, and did not give in the least to
my kicks and shoves. 'Hello!' I yelled. 'Hello! Colonel! Let me
  "And then suddenly in the silence I heard a sound which sent
my heart into my mouth. It was the clank of the levers and the
swish of the leaking cylinder. He had set the engine at work. The
lamp still stood upon the floor where I had placed it when
examining the trough. By its light I saw that the black ceiling
was coming down upon me, slowly, jerkily, but, as none knew
better than myself, with a force which must within a minute
grind me to a shapeless pulp. I threw myself, screaming, against
the door, and dragged with my nails at the lock. I implored the
colonel to let me out, but the remorseless clanking of the levers
drowned my cries. The ceiling was only a foot or two above my
head, and with my hand upraised I could feel its hard, rough
surface. Then it flashed through my mind that the pain of my
death would depend very much upon the position in which I met
it. If I lay on my face the weight would come upon my spine,
and I shuddered to think of that dreadful snap. Easier the other
way, perhaps; and yet, had I the nerve to lie and look up at that
deadly black shadow wavering down upon me? Already I was
unable to stand erect, when my eye caught something which
brought a gush of hope back to my heart.
  "I have said that though the floor and ceiling were of iron, the
walls were of wood. As I gave a last hurried glance around, I
saw a thin line of yellow light between two of the boards, which
broadened and broadened as a small panel was pushed backward.
For an instant I could hardly believe that here was indeed a door
which led away from death. The next instant I threw myself
through, and lay half-fainting upon the other side. The panel had
closed again behind me, but the crash of the lamp, and a few
moments afterwards the clang of the two slabs of metal, told me
how narrow had been my escape.
  "I was recalled to myself by a frantic plucking at my wrist,
and I found myself lying upon the stone floor of a narrow
corridor, while a woman bent over me and tugged at me with her
left hand, while she held a candle in her right. It was the same
good friend whose warning I had so foolishly rejected.
  " 'Come! come!' she cried breathlessly. 'They will be here in
a moment. They will see that you are not there. Oh, do not waste
the so-precious time, but come!'
  "This time, at least, I did not scorn her advice. I staggered to
my feet and ran with her along the corridor and down a winding
stair. The latter led to ancther broad passage, and just as we
reached it we heard the sound of running feet and the shouting of
two voices, one answering the other from the floor on which we
were and from the one beneath. My guide stopped and looked
about her like one who is at her wit's end. Then she threw open
a door which led into a bedroom, through the window of which
the moon was shining brightly.
  " 'It is your only chance,' said she. 'It is high, but it may be
that you can jump it.'
  "As she spoke a light sprang into view at the further end of
the passage, and I saw the lean figure of Colonel Lysander Stark
rushing forward with a lantern in one hand and a weapon like a
butcher's cleaver in the other. I rushed across the bedroom, flung
open the window, and looked out. How quiet and sweet and
wholesome the garden looked in the moonlight, and it could not
be more than thirty feet down. I clambered out upon the sill, but
I hesitated to jump until I should have heard what passed be-
tween my saviour and the ruffian who pursued me. If she were
ill-used, then at any risks I was determined to go back to her
assistance. The thought had hardly flashed through my mind
before he was at the door, pushing his way past her; but she
threw her arms round him and tried to hold him back.
  " 'Fritz! Fritz!' she cried in English, 'remember your promise
after the last time. You said it should not be again. He will be
silent! Oh, he will be silent!'
  " 'You are mad, Elise!' he shouted, struggling to break away
from her. 'You will be the ruin of us. He has seen too much. Let
me pass, I say!' He dashed her to one side, and, rushing to the
window, cut at me with his heavy weapon. I had let myself go,
and was hanging by the hands to the sill, when his blow fell. I
was conscious of a dull pain, my grip loosened, and I fell into
the garden below.
  "I was shaken but not hurt by the fall; so I picked myself up
and rushed off among the bushes as hard as I could run, for I
understood that I was far from being out of danger yet. Sud-
denly, however, as I ran, a deadly dizziness and sickness came
over me. I glanced down at my hand, which was throbbing
painfully, and then, for the first time, saw that my thumb had
been cut off and that the blood was pouring from my wound. I
endeavoured to tie my handkerchief round it, but there came a
sudden buzzing in my ears, and next moment I fell in a dead
faint among the rose-bushes.
  "How long I remained unconscious I cannot tell. It must have
been a very long time, for the moon had sunk, and a bright
morning was breaking when I came to myself. My clothes were
all sodden with dew, and my coat-sleeve was drenched with
blood from my wounded thumb. The smarting of it recalled in an
instant all the particulars of my night's adventure, and I sprang
to my feet with the feeling that I might hardly yet be safe from
my pursuers. But to my astonishment, when I came to look round
me, neither house nor garden were to be seen. I had been Iying
in an angle of the hedge close by the highroad, and just a little
lower down was a long building, which proved, upon my ap-
proaching it, to be the very station at which I had arrived upon
the previous night. Were it not for the ugly wound upon my
hand, all that had passed during those dreadful hours might have
been an evil dream.
  "Half dazed, I went into the station and asked about the
morning train. There would be one to Reading in less than an
hour. The same porter was on duty, I found, as had been there
when I arrived. I inquired of him whether he had ever heard of
Colonel Lysander Stark. The name was strange to him. Had he
observed a carriage the night before waiting for me? No, he had
not. Was there a police-station anywhere near? There was one
about three miles off.
  "It was too far for me to go, weak and ill as I was. I
determined to wait until I got back to town before telling my
story to the police. It was a little past six when I arrived, so I
went first to have my wound dressed, and then the doctor was
kind enough to bring me along here. I put the case into your
hands and shall do exactly what you advise."
  We both sat in silence for some little time after listening to
this extraordinary narrative. Then Sherlock Holmes pulled down
from the shelf one of the ponderous commonplace books in
which he placed his cuttings.
  "Here is an advertisement which will interest you," said he.
"It appeared in all the papers about a year ago. Listen to this:

    "Lost, on the 9th inst., Mr. Jeremiah Hayling, aged
  twenty-six, a hydraulic engineer. Left his lodgings at ten
  o'clock at night, and has not been heard of since. Was
  dressed in --

etc., etc. Ha! That represents the last time that the colonel
needed to have his machine overhauled, I fancy."
  "Good heavens!" cried my patient. "Then that explains what
the girl said."
  "Undoubtedly. It is quite clear that the colonel was a cool and
desperate man, who was absolutely determined that nothing
should stand in the way of his little game, like those out-and-out
pirates who will leave no survivor from a captured ship. Well,
every moment now is precious, so if you feel equal to it we shall
go down to Scotland Yard at once as a preliminary to starting for
  Some three hours or so afterwards we were all in the train
together, bound from Reading to the little Berkshire village.
There were Sherlock Holmes, the hydraulic engineer, Inspector
Bradstreet, of Scotland Yard, a plain-clothes man, and myself.
Bradstreet had spread an ordnance map of the county out upon
the seat and was busy with his compasses drawing a circle with
Eyford for its centre.
  "There you are," said he. "That circle is drawn at a radius of
ten miles from the village. The place we want must be some-
where near that line. You said ten miles, I think, sir."
  "It was an hour's good drive."
  "And you think that they brought you back all that way when
you were unconscious?"
  "They must have done so.l have a confused memory, too, of
having been lifted and conveyed somewhere."
  "What I cannot understand," said I, "is why they should
have spared you when they found you lying fainting in the
garden. Perhaps the villain was softened by the woman's
  "I hardly think that likely. I never saw a more inexorable face
in my life."
  "Oh, we shall soon clear up all that," said Bradstreet. "Well,
I have drawn my circle, and I only wish I knew at what point
upon it the folk that we are in search of are to be found."
  "I think I could lay my finger on it," said Holmes quietly.
  "Really, now!" cried the inspector, "you have formed your
opinion! Come, now, we shall see who agrees with you. I say it
is south, for the country is more deserted there."
  "And I say east," said my patient.
  "I am for west," remarked the plain-clothes man. "There are
several quiet little villages up there."
  "And I am for north," said I, "because there are no hills
there, and our friend says that he did not notice the carriage go
up any."
  "Come," cried the inspector, laughing; "it's a very pretty
diversity of opinion. We have boxed the compass among us.
Who do you give your casting vote to?"
  "You are all wrong."
  "But we can't all be."
  "Oh, yes, you can. This is my point." He placed his finger in
the centre of the circle. "This is where we shall find them."
  "But the twelve-mile drive?" gasped Hatherley.
  "Six out and six back. Nothing simpler. You say yourself that
the horse was fresh and glossy when you got in. How could it be
that if it had gone twelve miles over heavy roads?"
  "Indeed, it is a likely ruse enough," observed Bradstreet
thoughtfully. "Of course there can be no doubt as to the nature
of this gang."
  "None at all," said Holmes. "They are coiners on a large
scale, and have used the machine to form the amalgam which
has taken the place of silver."
  "We have known for some time that a clever gang was at
work," said the inspector. "They have been turning out half-
crowns by the thousand. We even traced them as far as Reading,
but could get no farther, for they had covered their traces in a
way that showed that they were very old hands. But now, thanks
to this lucky chance, I think that we have got them right enough."
  But the inspector was mistaken, for those criminals were not
destined to fall into the hands of justice. As we rolled into
Eyford Station we saw a gigantic column of smoke which streamed
up from behind a small clump of trees in the neighbourhood and
hung like an immense ostrich feather over the landscape.
  "A house on fire?" asked Bradstreet as the train steamed off
again on its way.
  "Yes, sir!" said the station-master.
  "When did it break out?"
  "I hear that it was during the night, sir, but it has got worse,
and the whole place is in a blaze."
  "Whose house is it?"
  "Dr. Becher's."
  "Tell me," broke in the engineer, "is Dr. Becher a German,
very thin, with a long, sharp nose?"
  The station-master laughed heartily. "No, sir, Dr. Becher is
an Englishman, and there isn't a man in the parish who has a
bener-lined waistcoat. But he has a gentleman staying with him,
a patient, as I understand, who is a foreigner, and he looks as if
a little good Berkshire beef would do him no harm."
  The station-master had not finished his speech before we were
all hastening in the direction of the fire. The road topped a low
hill, and there was a great widespread whitewashed building in
front of us, spouting fire at every chink and window, while in
the garden in front three fire-engines were vainly striving to keep
the flames under.
  "That's it!" cried Hatherley, in intense excitement. "There is
the gravel-drive, and there are the rose-bushes where I lay. That
second window is the one that I jumped from."
  "Well, at least," said Holmes, "you have had your revenge
upon them. There can be no question that it was your oil-lamp
which, when it was crushed in the press, set fire to the wooden
walls, though no doubt they were too excited in the chase after
you to observe it at the time. Now keep your eyes open in this
crowd for your friends of last night, though I very much fear that
they are a good hundred miles off by now."
  And Holmes's fears came to be realized, for from that day to
this no word has ever been heard either of the beautiful woman,
the sinister German, or the morose Englishman. Early that morn-
ing a peasant had met a cart containing several people and some
very bulky boxes driving rapidly in the direction of Reading, but
there all traces of the fugitives disappeared, and even Holmes's
ingenuity failed ever to discover the least clue as to their
  The firemen had been much perturbed at the strange arrange-
ments which they had found within, and still more so by discov-
ering a newly severed human thumb upon a window-sill of the
second floor. About sunset, however, their efforts were at last
successful, and they subdued the flames, but not before the roof
had fallen in, and the whole place been reduced to such absolute
ruin that, save some twisted cylinders and iron piping, not a
trace remained of the machinery which had cost our unfortunate
acquaintance so dearly. Large masses of nickel and of tin were
discovered stored in an out-house, but no coins were to be
found, which may have explained the presence of those bulky
boxes which have been already referred to.
  How our hydraulic engineer had been conveyed from the
garden to the spot where he recovered his senses might have
remained forever a mystery were it not for the soft mould, which
told us a very plain tale. He had evidently been carried down by
two persons, one of whom had remarkably small feet and the
other unusually large ones. On the whole, it was most probable
that the silent Englishman, being less bold or less murderous
than his companion, had assisted the woman to bear the uncon-
scious man out of the way of danger.
  "Well," said our engineer ruefully as we took our seats to
return once more to London, "it has been a pretty business for
me! I have lost my thumb and I have lost a fifty-guinea fee, and
what have I gained?"
  "Experience," said Holmes, laughing. "Indirectly it may be
of value, you know; you have only to put it into words to gain
the reputation of being excellent company for the remainder of
your existence."

         The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor

  The Lord St. Simon marriage, and its curious termination, have
long ceased to be a subject of interest in those exalted circles in
which the unfortunate bridegroom moves. Fresh scandals have
eclipsed it, and their more piquant details have drawn the gossips
away from this four-year-old drama. As I have reason to believe,
however, that the full facts have never been revealed to the
general public, and as my friend Sherlock Holmes had a consid-
erable share in clearing the matter up, I feel that no memoir of
him would be complete without some little sketch of this remark-
able episode.
  It was a few weeks before my own marriage, during the days
when I was still sharing rooms with Holmes in Baker Street, that
he came home from an afternoon stroll to find a letter on the
table waiting for him. I had remained indoors all day, for the
weather had taken a sudden turn to rain, with high autumnal
winds, and the Jezail bullet which I had brought back in one of
my limbs as a relic of my Afghan campaign throbbed with dull
persistence. With my body in one easy-chair and my legs upon
another, I had surrounded myself with a cloud of newspapers
until at last, saturated with the news of the day, I tossed them all
aside and lay listless, watching the huge crest and monogram
upon the envelope upon the table and wondering lazily who my
friend's noble correspondent could be.
  "Here is a very fashionable epistle," I remarked as he en-
tered. "Your morning letters, if I remember right, were from a
fish-monger and a tide-waiter."
  "Yes, my correspondence has certainly the charm of variety,"
he answered, smiling, "and the humbler are usually the more
interesting. This looks like one of those unwelcome social sum-
monses which call upon a man either to be bored or to lie."
  He broke the seal and glanced over the contents.
  "Oh, come, it may prove to be something of interest, after
  "Not social, then?"
  "No, distinctly professional."
  "And from a noble client?"
  "One of the highest in England."
  "My dear fellow. I congratulate you."
  "I assure you, Watson, without affectation, that the status of
my client is a matter of less moment to me than the interest of
his case. It is just possible, however, that that also may not be
wanting in this new investigation. You have been reading the
papers diligently of late, have you not?"
  "It looks like it," said I ruefully, pointing to a huge bundle in
the corner. "I have had nothing else to do."
  "It is fortunate, for you will perhaps be able to post me up. I
read nothing except the criminal news and the agony column.
The latter is always instructive. But if you have followed recent
events so closely you must have read about Lord St. Simon and
his wedding?"
  "Oh, yes, with the deepest interest."
  "That is well. The letter which I hold in my hand is from
Lord St. Simon. I will read it to you, and in return you must turn
over these papers and let me have whatever bears upon the
matter. This is what he says:

        "Lord Backwater tells me that I may place implicit reliance
      upon your judgment and discretion. I have determined,
      therefore, to call upon you and to consult you in reference
      to the very painful event which has occurred in connection
      with my wedding. Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, is acting
      already in the matter, but he assures me that he sees no
      objection to your cooperation, and that he even thinks that it
      might be of some assistance. I will call at four o'clock in
      the afternoon, and, should you have any other engagement
      at that time, I hope that you will postpone it, as this matter
      is of paramount importance.
                                                  "Yours faithfully,
                                                         "ST. SIMON.
  "It is dated from Grosvenor Mansions, written with a quill
pen, and the noble lord has had the misfortune to get a smear of
ink upon the outer side of his right little finger," remarked
Holmes as he folded up the epistle.
  "He says four o'clock. It is three now. He will be here in an
  "Then I have just time, with your assistance, to get clear upon
the subject. Turn over those papers and arrange the extracts in
their order of time, while I take a glance as to who our client
is." He picked a red-covered volume from a line of books of
reference beside the mantelpiece. "Here he is," said he, sitting
down and flattening it out upon his knee. "Lord Robert
Walsingham de Vere St. Simon, second son of the Duke of
Balmoral. Hum! Arms: Azure, three caltrops in chief over a fess
sable. Born in 1846. He's forty-one years of age, which is
mature for marriage. Was Under-Secretary for the colonies in a
late administration. The Duke, his father, was at one time Secre-
tary for Foreign Affairs. They inherit Plantagenet blood by direct
descent, and Tudor on the distaff side. Ha! Well, there is nothing
very instructive in all this. I think that I must turn to you
Watson, for something more solid."
  "I have very little difficulty in finding what I want," said I,
"for the facts are quite recent, and the matter struck me as
remarkable. I feared to refer them to you, however, as I knew
that you had an inquiry on hand and that you disliked the
intrusion of other matters."
  "Oh, you mean the little problem of the Grosvenor Square
furniture van. That is quite cleared up now -- though, indeed, it
was obvious from the first. Pray give me the results of your
newspaper selections."
  "Here is the first notice which I can find. It is in the personal
column of the Morning Post, and dates, as you see, some weeks

       "A marriage has been arranged [it says] and will, if rumour
     is correct, very shortly take place, between Lord Robert St.
     Simon, second son of the Duke of Balmoral, and Miss Hatty
     Doran, the only daughter of Aloysius Doran. Esq., of San
     Francisco, Cal., U. S. A.

That is all."
  "Terse and to the point," remarked Holmes, stretching his
long, thin legs towards the fire.
  "There was a paragraph amplifying this in one of the society
papers of the same week. Ah, here it is:

      "There will soon be a call for protection in the marriage
    market, for the present free-trade principle appears to tell
    heavily against our home product. One by one the manage-
    ment of the noble houses of Great Britain is passing into the
    hands of our fair cousins from across the Atlantic. An
    important addition has been made during the last week to
    the list of the prizes which have been borne away by these
    charming invaders. Lord St. Simon, who has shown himself
    for over twenty years proof against the little god's arrows,
    has now definitely announced his approaching marriage with
    Miss Hatty Doran, the fascinating daughter of a California
    millionaire. Miss Doran, whose graceful figure and striking
    face attracted much attention at the Westbury House festivi-
    ties, is an only child, and it is currently reported that her
    dowry will run to considerably over the six figures, with
    expectancies for the future. As it is an open secret that the
    Duke of Balmoral has been compelled to sell his pictures within
    the last few years, and as Lord St. Simon has no property of
    his own save the small estate of Birchmoor, it is obvious
    that the Californian heiress is not the only gainer by an
    alliance which will enable her to make the easy and com-
    mon transition from a Republican lady to a British peeress."

  "Anything else?" asked Holmes, yawning.
  "Oh, yes; plenty. Then there is another note in the Morning
Post to say that the mariage would be an absolutely quiet one,
that it would be at St. George's, Hanover Square, that only half
a dozen intimate friends would be invited, and that the party
would return to the furnished house at Lancaster Gate which has
been taken by Mr. Aloysius Doran. Two days later -- that is, on
Wednesday last -- there is a curt announcement that the wedding
had taken place, and that the honeymoon would be passed at
Lord Backwater's place, near Petersfield. Those are all the no-
tices which appeared before the disappearance of the bride."
  "Before the what?" asked Holmes with a start.
  "The vanishing of the lady."
  "When did she vanish, then?"
  "At the wedding breakfast."
  "Indeed. This is more interesting than it promised to be; quite
dramatic, in fact."
  "Yes; it struck me as being a little out of the common."
  "They often vanish before the ceremony, and occasionally
during the honeymoon; but I cannot call to mind anything quite
so prompt as this. Pray let me have the details."
  "I warn you that they are very incomplete."
  "Perhaps we may make them less so."
  "Such as they are, they are set forth in a single article of a
morning paper of yesterday, which I will read to you. It is
headed, 'Singular Occurrence at a Fashionable Wedding':

      "The family of Lord Robert St. Simon has been thrown
    into the greatest consternation by the strange and painful
    episodes which have taken place in connection with his
    wedding. The ceremony, as shortly announced in the papers
    of yesterday, occurred on the previous morning; but it is
    only now that it has been possible to confirm the strange
    rumours which have been so persistently floating about. In
    spite of the attempts of the friends to hush the matter up, so
    much public attention has now been drawn to it that no
    good purpose can be served by affecting to disregard what
    is a common subject for conversation.
      "The ceremony, which was performed at St. George's,
    Hanover Square, was a very quiet one, no one being present
    save the father of the bride, Mr. Aloysius Doran, the Duch-
    ess of Balmoral, Lord Backwater, Lord Eustace, and Lady
    Clara St. Simon (the younger brother and sister of the
    bridegroom), and Lady Alicia Whittington. The whole party
    proceeded afterwards to the house of Mr. Aloysius Doran,
    at Lancaster Gate, where breakfast had been prepared. It
    appears that some little trouble was caused by a woman,
    whose name has not been ascertained, who endeavoured to
    force her way into the house after the bridal party, alleging
    that she had some claim upon Lord St. Simon. It was only
    after a painful and prolonged scene that she was ejected by
    the butler and the footman. The bride, who had fortunately
    entered the house before this unpleasant interruption, had
    sat down to breakfast with the rest, when she complained of
    a sudden indisposition and retired to her room. Her pro-
    longed absence having caused some comment, her father
    followed her, but learned from her maid that she had only
    come up to her chamber for an instant, caught up an ulster
    and bonnet, and hurried down to the passage. One of the
    footmen declared that he had seen a lady leave the house
    thus apparelled, but had refused to credit that it was his
    mistress, believing her to be with the company. On ascer-
    taining that his daughter had disappeared, Mr. Aloysius
    Doran, in conjunction with the bridegroom, instantly put
    themselves in communication with the police, and very
    energetic inquiries are being made, which will probably
    result in a speedy clearing up of this very singular business.
    Up to a late hour last night, however, nothing had tran-
    spired as to the whereabouts of the missing lady. There are
    rumours of foul play in the matter, and it is said that the
    police have caused the arrest of the woman who had caused
    the original disturbance, in the belief that, from jealousy or
    some other motive, she may have been concerned in the
    strange disappearance of the bride."

  "And is that all?"
  "Only one little item in another of the morning papers, but it
is a suggestive one."
  "And it is --"
  "That Miss Flora Millar, the lady who had caused the distur-
bance, has actually been arrested. It appears that she was for-
merly a danseuse at the Allegro, and that she has known the
bridegroom for some years. There are no further particulars, and
the whole case is in your hands now -- so far as it has been set
forth in the public press."
  "And an exceedingly interesting case it appears to be. I would
not have missed it for worlds. But there is a ring at the bell,
Watson, and as the clock makes it a few minutes after four, I
have no doubt that this will prove to be our noble client. Do not
dream of going, Watson, for I very much prefer having a wit-
ness, if only as a check to my own memory."
  "Lord Robert St. Simon," announced our page-boy, throwing
open the door. A gentleman entered, with a pleasant, cultured
face, high-nosed and pale, with something perhaps of petulance
about the mouth, and with the steady, well-opened eye of a man
whose pleasant lot it had ever been to command and to be
obeyed. His manner was brisk, and yet his general appearance
gave an undue impression of age, for he had a slight forward
stoop and a little bend of the knees as he walked. His hair, too,
as he swept off his very curly-brimmed hat, was grizzled round
the edges and thin upon the top. As to his dress, it was careful to
the verge of foppishness, with high collar, black frock-coat,
white waistcoat, yellow gloves, patent-leather shoes, and light-
coloured gaiters. He advanced slowly into the room, turning his
head from left to right, and swinging in his right hand the cord
which held his golden eyeglasses.
  "Goodday, Lord St. Simon," said Holmes, rising and bow-
ing. "Pray take the basket-chair. This is my friend and col-
league, Dr. Watson. Draw up a little to the fire, and we will talk
this matter over."
  "A most painful matter to me, as you can most readily
imagine, Mr. Holmes. I have been cut to the quick. I understand
that you have already managed several delicate cases of this sort
sir, though I presume that they were hardly from the same class
of society."
  "No, I am descending."
  "I beg pardon."
  "My last client of the sort was a king."
  "Oh, really! I had no idea. And which king?"
  "The King of Scandinavia."
  "What! Had he lost his wife?"
  "You can understand," said Holmes suavely, "that I extend
to the affairs of my other clients the same secrecy which I
promise to you in yours."
  "Of course! Very right! very right! I'm sure I beg pardon. As
to my own case, I am ready to give you any information which
may assist you in forming an opinion."
  "Thank you. I have already learned all that is in the public
prints, nothing more. I presume that I may take it as correct --
this article, for example, as to the disappearance of the bride."
  Lord St. Simon glanced over it. "Yes, it is correct, as far as it
  "But it needs a great deal of supplementing before anyone
could offer an opinion. I think that I may arrive at my facts most
directly by questioning you."
  "Pray do so."
  "When did you first meet Miss Hatty Doran?"
  "In San Francisco, a year ago."
  "You were travelling in the States?"
  "Did you become engaged then?"
  "But you were on a friendly footing?"
  "I was amused by her society, and she could see that I was
  "Her father is very rich?"
  "He is said to be the richest man on the Pacific slope."
  "And how did he make his money?"
  "In mining. He had nothing a few years ago. Then he struck
gold, invested it, and came up by leaps and bounds."
  "Now, what is your own impression as to the young lady's --
your wife's character?"
  The nobleman swung his glasses a little faster and stared down
into the fire. "You see, Mr. Holmes," said he, "my wife was
twenty before her father became a rich man. During that time she
ran free in a mining camp and wandered through woods or
mountains, so that her education has come from Nature rather
than from the schoolmaster. She is what we call in England a
tomboy, with a strong nature, wild and free, unfettered by any
sort of traditions. She is impetuous -- volcanic, I was about to
say. She is swift in making up her mind and fearless in cartying
out her resolutions. On the other hand, I would not have given
her the name which I have the honour to bear" -- he gave a little
stately cough -- "had not I thought her to be at bottom a noble
woman. I believe that she is capable of heroic self-sacrifice and
that anything dishonourable would be repugnant to her."
  "Have you her photograph?"
  "I brought this with me." He opened a locket and showed us
the full face of a very lovely woman. It was not a photograph but
an ivory miniature, and the artist had brought out the full effect
of the lustrous black hair, the large dark eyes, and the exquisite
mouth. Holmes gazed long and earnestly at it. Then he closed
the locket and handed it back to Lord St. Simon.
  "The young lady came to London, then, and you renewed
your acquaintance?"
  "Yes, her father brought her over for this last London season.
I met her several times, became engaged to her, and have now
married her."
  "She brought. I understand. a considerable dowry?"
  "A fair dowry. Not more than is usual in my family."
  "And this, of course, remains to you, since the marriage is a
fait accompli?"
  "I really have made no inquiries on the subject."
  "Very naturally not. Did you see Miss Doran on the day
before the wedding?"
  "Was she in good spirits?"
  "Never better. She kept talking of what we should do in our
future lives."
  "Indeed! That is vety interesting. And on the morning of the
  "She was as bright as possible -- at least until after the
  "And did you observe any change in her then?"
  "Well, to tell the truth, I saw then the first signs that I had
ever seen that her temper was just a little sharp. The incident
however, was too trivial to relate and can have no possible
bearing upon the case."
  "Pray let us have it, for all that."
  "Oh, it is childish. She dropped her bouquet as we went
towards the vestry. She was passing the front pew at the time,
and it fell over into the pew. There was a moment's delay, but
the gentleman in the pew handed it up to her again, and it did not
appear to be the worse for the fall. Yet when I spoke to her of
the matter, she answered me abruptly; and in the carriage, on our
way home, she seemed absurdly agitated over this trifling cause."
  "Indeed! You say that there was a gentleman in the pew.
Some of the general public were present, then?"
  "Oh, yes. It is impossible to exclude them when the church is
  "This gentleman was not one of your wife's friends?"
  "No, no; I call him a gentleman by courtesy, but he was quite
a common-looking person. I hardly noticed his appearance. But
really I think that we are wandering rather far from the point."
  "Lady St. Simon, then, returned from the wedding in a less
cheerful frame of mind than she had gone to it. What did she do
on reentering her father's house?"
  "I saw her in conversation with her maid."
  "And who is her maid?"
  "Alice is her name. She is an American and came from
California with her."
  "A confidential servant?"
  "A little too much so. It seemed to me that her mistress
allowed her to take great liberties. Still, of course, in America
they look upon these things in a different way."
  "How long did she speak to this Alice?"
  "Oh, a few minutes. I had something else to think of."
  "You did not overhear what they said?"
  "Lady St. Simon said something about 'jumping a claim.' She
was accustomed to use slang of the kind. I have no idea what she
  "American slang is very expressive sometimes. And what did
your wife do when she finished speaking to her maid?"
  "She walked into the breakfast-room."
  "On your arm?"
  "No, alone. She was very independent in little matters like
that. Then, after we had sat down for ten minutes or so, she rose
hurriedly, muttered some words of apology, and left the room.
She never came back."
  "But this maid, Alice, as I understand, deposes that she went
to her room, covered her bride's dress with a long ulster, put on
a bonnet, and went out."
  "Quite so. And she was afterwards seen walking into Hyde
Park in company with Flora Millar, a woman who is now in
custody, and who had already made a disturbance at Mr. Doran's
house that morning."
  "Ah, yes. I should like a few patticulars as to this young lady,
and your relations to her."
  Lord St. Simon shrugged his shoulders and raised his eye-
brows. "We have been on a friendly footing for some years -- I
may say on a very friendly footing. She used to be at the
Allegro. I have not treated her ungenerously, and she had no just
cause of complaint against me, but you know what women are,
Mr. Holmes. Flora was a dear little thing, but exceedingly
hot-headed and devotedly attached to me. She wrote me dreadful
letters when she heard that I was about to be married, and, to tell
the truth, the reason why I had the marriage celebrated so quietly
was that I feared lest there might be a scandal in the church. She
came to Mr. Doran's door just after we returned, and she en-
deavoured to push her way in, uttering very abusive expressions
towards my wife, and even threatening her, but I had foreseen
the possibility of something of the sort, and I had two police
fellows there in private clothes, who soon pushed her out again.
She was quiet when she saw that there was no good in making a
  "Did your wife hear all this?"
  "No, thank goodness, she did not."
  "And she was seen walking with this very woman afterwards?"
  "Yes. That is what Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, looks
upon as so serious. It is thought that Flora decoyed my wife out
and laid some terrible trap for her."
  "Well, it is a possible supposition."
  "You think so, too?"
  "l did not say a probable one. But you do not yourself look
upon this as likely?"
  "I do not think Flora would hurt a fly."
  "Still, jealousy is a strange transformer of characters. Pray
what is your own theory as to what took place?"
  "Well, really, I came to seek a theory, not to propound one. I
have given you all the facts. Since you ask me, however, I may
say that it has occurred to me as possible that the excitement of
this affair, the consciousness that she had made so immense a
social stride, had the effect of causing some little nervous distur-
bance in my wife."
  "In short, that she had become suddenly deranged?"
  "Well, really, when I consider that she has turned her back -- I
will not say upon me, but upon so much that many have aspired
to without success -- I can hardly explain it in any other fashion."
  "Well, certainly that is also a conceivable hypothesis," said
Holmes, smiling. "And now, Lord St. Simon, I think that I have
nearly all my data. May I ask whether you were seated at the
breakfast-table so that you could see out of the window?"
  "We could see the other side of the road and the Park."
  "Quite so. Then I do not think that I need to detain you
longer. I shall communicate with you."
  "Should you be fortunate enough to solve this problem," said
our client, rising.
  "I have solved it."
  "Eh? What was that?"
  "I say that I have solved it."
  "Where, then, is my wife?"
  "That is a detail which I shall speedily supply."
  Lord St. Simon shook his head. "I am afraid that it will take
wiser heads than yours or mine," he remarked, and bowing in a
stately, old-fashioned manner he departed.
  "It is very good of Lord St. Simon to honour my head by
putting it on a level with his own," said Sherlock Holmes,
laughing. "I think that I shall have a whisky and soda and a
cigar after all this cross-questioning. I had formed my conclu-
sions as to the case before our client came into the room."
  "My dear Holmes!"
  "I have notes of several similar cases, though none, as I
remarked before, which were quite as prompt. My whole exami-
nation served to turn my conjecture into a certainty. Circumstan-
tial evidence is occasionally very convincing, as when you find a
trout in the milk, to quote Thoreau's example."
  "But I have heard all that you have heard."
  "Without, however, the knowledge of preexisting cases which
serves me so well. There was a parallel instance in Aberdeen
some years back, and something on very much the same lines at
Munich the year after the Franco-Prussian War. It is one of these
cases -- but, hello, here is Lestrade! Good-afternoon, Lestrade!
You will find an extra tumbler upon the sideboard,.and there are
cigars in the box."
  The official detective was attired in a peajacket and cravat,
which gave him a decidedly nautical appearance, and he carried
a black canvas bag in his hand. With a short greeting he seated
himself and lit the cigar which had been offered to him.
  "What's up, then?" asked Holmes with a twinkle in his eye.
"You look dissatisfied."
  "And I feel dissatisfied. It is this infernal St. Simon marriage
case. I can make neither head nor tail of the business."
  "Really! You surprise me."
  "Who ever heard of such a mixed affair? Every clue seems to
slip through my fingers. I have been at work upon it all day."
  "And very wet it seems to have made you," said Holmes
laying his hand upon the arm of the peajacket.
  "Yes, I have been dragging the Serpentine."
  "In heaven's name, what for?"
  "In search of the body of Lady St. Simon."
  Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his chair and laughed heartily.
  "Have you dragged the basin of Trafalgar Square fountain?"
he asked.
  "Why? What do you mean?"
  "Because you have just as good a chance of finding this lady
in the one as in the other."
  Lestrade shot an angry glance at my companion. "I suppose you
know all about it," he snarled.
  "Well, I have only just heard the facts, but my mind is made
  "Oh, indeed! Then you think that the Serpentine plays no part
in the maner?"
  "I think it very unlikely."
  "Then perhaps you will kindly explain how it is that we found
this in it?" He opened his bag as he spoke, and tumbled onto the
floor a wedding-dress of watered silk, a pair of white satin shoes
and a bride's wreath and veil, all discoloured and soaked in
water. "There," said he, putting a new wedding-ring upon the
top of the pile. "There is a little nut for you to crack, Master
  "Oh, indeed!" said my friend, blowing blue rings into the air.
"You dragged them from the Serpentine?"
  "No. They were found floating near the margin by a park-
keeper. They have been identified as her clothes, and it seemed
to me that if the clothes were there the body would not be far
  "By the same brilliant reasoning, every man's body is to be
found in the neighbourhood of his wardrobe. And pray what did
you hope to arrive at through this?"
  "At some evidence implicating Flora Millar in the disap-
  "I am afraid that you will find it difficult."
  "Are you, indeed, now?" cried Lestrade with some bitter-
ness. "I am afraid, Holmes, that you are not very practical with
your deductions and your inferences. You have made two blun-
ders in as many minutes. This dress does implicate Miss Flora
  "And how?"
  "In the dress is a pocket. In the pocket is a card-case. In the
card-case is a note. And here is the very note." He slapped it
down upon the table in front of him. "Listen to this:

        "You will see me when all is ready. Come at once.
                                                "F. H. M.

Now my theory all along has been that Lady St. Simon was
decoyed away by Flora Millar, and that she, with confederates,
no doubt, was responsible for her disappearance. Here, signed
with her initials, is the very note which was no doubt quietly
slipped into her hand at the door and which lured her within
their reach."
  "Very good, Lestrade," said Holmes, laughing. "You really
are very fine indeed. Let me see it." He took up the paper in a
listless way, but his attention instantly became riveted, and he
gave a little cry of satisfaction. "This is indeed important," said
  "Ha! you find it so?"
  "Extremely so. I congratulate you warmly."
  Lestrade rose in his triumph and bent his head to look. "Why,"
he shrieked, "you're looking at the wrong side!"
  "On the contrary, this is the right side."
  "The right side? You're mad! Here is the note written in
pencil over here."
  "And over here is what appears to be the fragment of a hotel
bill, which interests me deeply."
  "There's nothing in it. I looked at it before," said Lestrade.

        "Oct. 4th, rooms 8s., breakfast 2s. 6d., cocktail 1s.,
      lunch 2s. 6d., glass sherry, 8d.

I see nothing in that."
  "Very likely not. It is most important, all the same. As to the
note, it is important also, or at least the initials are, so I
congratulate you again."
  "I've wasted time enough," said Lestrade, rising. "I believe
in hard work and not in sitting by the fire spinning fine theories.
Good-day, Mr. Holmes, and we shall see which gets to the
bottom of the matter first." He gathered up the garments, thrust
them into the bag, and made for the door.
  "Just one hint to you, Lestrade," drawled Holmes before his
rival vanished; "I will tell you the true solution of the matter.
Lady St. Simon is a myth. There is not, and there never has
been, any such person."
  Lestrade looked sadly at my companion. Then he turned to
me, tapped his forehead three times, shook his head solemnly,
and hurried away.
  He had hardly shut the door behind him when Holmes rose to
put on his overcoat. "There is something in what the fellow says
about outdoor work," he remarked, "so l think, Watson, that I
must leave you to your papers for a little."
  It was after five o'clock when Sherlock Holmes left me, but I
had no time to be lonely, for within an hour there arrived a
confectioner's man with a very large flat box. This he unpacked
with the help of a youth whom he had brought with him, and
presently, to my very great astonishment, a quite epicurean little
cold supper began to be laid out upon our humble lodging-house
mahogany. There were a couple of brace of cold woodcock, a
pheasant, a pate de foie gras pie with a group of ancient and
cobwebby bottles. Having laid out all these luxuries, my two
visitors vanished away, like the genii of the Arabian Nights, with
no explanation save that the things had been paid for and were
ordered to this address.
  Just before nine o'clock Sherlock Holmes stepped briskly into
the room. His features were gravely set, but there was a light in
his eye which made me think that he had not been disappointed
in his conclusions.
  "They have laid the supper, then," he said, rubbing his
  "You seem to expect company. They have laid for five."
  "Yes, I fancy we may have some company dropping in," said
he. "I am surprised that Lord St. Simon has not already arrived.
Ha! I fancy that I hear his step now upon the stairs."
  It was indeed our visitor of the afternoon who came bustling
in, dangling his glasses more vigorously than ever, and with a
very perturbed expression upon his aristocratic features.
  "My messenger reached you, then?" asked Holmes.
  "Yes, and I confess that the contents startled me beyond
measure. Have you good authority for what you say?"
  "The best possible."
  Lord St. Simon sank into a chair and passed his hand over his
  "What will the Duke say," he murmured, "when he hears
that one of the family has been subjected to such humiliation?"
  "It is the purest accident. I cannot allow that there is any
humiliation. "
  "Ah, you look on these things from another standpoint."
  "I fail to see that anyone is to blame. I can hardly see how the
lady could have acted otherwise, though her abrupt method of
doing it was undoubtedly to be regretted. Having no mother, she
had no one to advise her at such a crisis."
  "It was a slight, sir, a public slight," said Lord St. Simon,
tapping his fingers upon the table.
  "You must make allowance for this poor girl, placed in so
unprecedented a position."
  "I will make no allowance. I am very angry indeed, and I
have been shamefully used."
  "I think that I heard a ring," said Holmes. "Yes, there are
steps on the landing. If I cannot persuade you to take a lenient
view of the matter, Lord St. Simon, I have brought an advocate
here who may be more successful." He opened the door and
ushered in a lady and gentleman. "Lord St. Simon," said he
"allow me to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Francis Hay
Moulton. The lady, I think, you have already met."
  At the sight of these newcomers our client had sprung from his
seat and stood very erect, with his eyes cast down and his hand
thrust into the breast of his frock-coat, a picture of offended
dignity. The lady had taken a quick step forward and had held
out her hand to him, but he still refused to raise his eyes. It was
as well for his resolution, perhaps, for her pleading face was one
which it was hard to resist.
  "You're angry, Robert," said she. "Well, I guess you have
every cause to be."
  "Pray make no apology to me," said Lord St. Simon bitterly.
  "Oh, yes, I know that I have treated you real bad and that I
should have spoken to you before I went; but I was kind of
rattled, and from the time when I saw Frank here again I just
didn't know what I was doing or saying. I only wonder I didn't
fall down and do a faint right there before the altar."
  "Perhaps, Mrs. Moulton, you would like my friend and me to
leave the room while you explain this matter?"
  "If I may give an opinion," remarked the strange gentleman,
"we've had just a little too much secrecy over this business
already. For my part, I should like all Europe and America to
hear the rights of it." He was a small, wiry, sunburnt man,
clean-shaven, with a sharp face and alert manner.
  "Then I'll tell our story right away," said the lady. "Frank
here and I met in '84, in McQuire's camp, near the Rockies,
where pa was working a claim. We were engaged to each other,
Frank and I; but then one day father struck a rich pocket and
made a pile, while poor Frank here had a claim that petered out
and came to nothing. The richer pa grew the poorer was Frank;
so at last pa wouldn't hear of our engagement lasting any longer,
and he took me away to 'Frisco. Frank wouldn't throw up his
hand, though; so he followed me there, and he saw me without
pa knowing anything about it. It would only have made him mad
to know, so we just fixed it all up for ourselves. Frank said that
he would go and make his pile, too, and never come back to
claim me until he had as much as pa. So then I promised to wait
for him to the end of time and pledged myself not to marry
anyone else while he lived. 'Why shouldn't we be married right
away, then,' said he, 'and then I will feel sure of you; and I
won't claim to be your husband until I come back?' Well, we
talked it over, and he had fixed it all up so nicely, with a
clergyman all ready in waiting, that we just did it right there; and
then Frank went off to seek his fortune, and I went back to pa.
  "The next I heard of Frank was that he was in Montana, and
then he went prospecting in Arizona, and then I heard of him
from New Mexico. After that came a long newspaper story about
how a miners' camp had been attacked by Apache Indians, and
there was my Frank's name among the killed. I fainted dead
away, and I was very sick for months after. Pa thought I had a
decline and took me to half the doctors in 'Frisco. Not a word of
news came for a year and more, so that I never doubted that
Frank was really dead. Then Lord St. Simon came to 'Frisco,
and we came to London, and a marriage was arranged, and pa
was very pleased, but I felt all the time that no man on this earth
would ever take the place in my heart that had been given to my
poor Frank.
  "Still, if I had married Lord St. Simon, of course I'd have
done my duty by him. We can't command our love, but we can
our actions. I went to the altar with him with the intention to
make him just as good a wife as it was in me to be. But you may
imagine what I felt when, just as I came to the altar rails, I
glanced back and saw Frank standing and looking at me out of
the first pew. I thought it was his ghost at first; but when I
looked again there he was still, with a kind of question in his
eyes, as if to ask me whether I were glad or sorry to see him. I
wonder I didn't drop. I know that everything was turning round,
and the words of the clergyman were just like the buzz of a bee
in my ear. I didn't know what to do. Should I stop the service
and make a scene in the church? I glanced at him again, and he
seemed to know what I was thinking, for he raised his finger to
his lips to tell me to be still. Then I saw him scribble on a piece
of paper, and I knew that he was writing me a note. As I passed
his pew on the way out I dropped my bouquet over to him, and
he slipped the note into my hand when he returned me the
flowers. It was only a line asking me to join him when he made
the sign to me to do so. Of course I never doubted for a moment
that my first duty was now to him, and I determined to do just
whatever he might direct.
  "When I got back I told my maid, who had known him in
California, and had always been his friend. I ordered her to say
nothing, but to get a few things packed and my ulster ready. I
know I ought to have spoken to Lord St. Simon, but it was
dreadful hard before his mother and all those great people. I just
made up my mind to run away and explain afterwards. I hadn't
been at the table ten minutes before I saw Frank out of the
window at the other side of the road. He beckoned to me and
then began walking into the Park. I slipped out, put on my
things, and followed him. Some woman came talking something
or other about Lord St. Simon to me -- seemed to me from the
little I heard as if he had a little secret of his own before
marriage also -- but I managed to get away from her and soon
overtook Frank. We got into a cab together, and away we drove
to some lodgings he had taken in Gordon Square, and that was
my true wedding after all those years of waiting. Frank had been
a prisoner among the Apaches, had escaped, came on to 'Frisco,
found that I had given him up for dead and had gone to England,
followed me there, and had come upon me at last on the very
morning of my second wedding."
  "I saw it in a paper," explained the American. "It gave the
name and the church but not where the lady lived."
  "Then we had a talk as to what we should do, and Frank was
all for openness, but I was so ashamed of it all that I felt as if I
should like to vanish away and never see any of them again --
just sending a line to pa, perhaps, to show him that I was alive.
It was awful to me to think of all those lords and ladies sitting
round that breakfast-table and waiting for me to come back. So
Frank took my wedding-clothes and things and made a bundle of
them, so that I should not be traced, and dropped them away
somewhere where no one could find them. It is likely that we
should have gone on to Paris to-morrow, only that this good
gentleman, Mr. Holmes, came round to us this evening, though
how he found us is more than I can think, and he showed us very
clearly and kindly that I was wrong and that Frank was right, and
that we should be putting ourselves in the wrong if we were so
secret. Then he offered to give us a chance of talking to Lord St.
Simon alone, and so we came right away round to his rooms at
once. Now, Robert, you have heard it all, and I am very sorry if
I have given you pain, and I hope that you do not think very
meanly of me."
  Lord St. Simon had by no means relaxed his rigid attitude, but
had listened with a frowning brow and a compressed lip to this
long narrative.
  "Excuse me," he said, "but it is not my custom to discuss
my most intimate personal affairs in this public manner."
  "Then you won't forgive me? You won't shake hands before
I go?"
  "Oh, certainly, if it would give you any pleasure." He put out
his hand and coldly grasped that which she extended to him.
  "I had hoped," suggested Holmes, "that you would have
joined us in a friendly supper."
  "I think that there you ask a little too much," responded his
Lordship. "I may be forced to acquiesce in these recent develop-
ments, but I can hardly be expected to make merry over them. I
think that with your permission I will now wish you all a very
good-night." He included us all in a sweeping bow and stalked
out of the room.
  "Then I trust that you at least will honour me with your
company," said Sherlock Holmes. "It is always a joy to meet an
American, Mr. Moulton, for I am one of those who believe that
the folly of a monarch and the blundering of a minister in
far-gone years will not prevent our children from being some day
citizens of the same world-wide country under a flag which shall
be a quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes."
  "The case has been an interesting one," remarked Holmes
when our visitors had left us, "because it serves to show very
clearly how simple the explanation may be of an affair which at
first sight seems to be almost inexplicable. Nothing could be
more natural than the sequence of events as narrated by this lady,
and nothing stranger than the result when viewed, for instance
by Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland Yard."
  "You were not yourself at fault at all, then?"
  "From the first, two facts were very obvious to me, the one
that the lady had been quite willing to undergo the wedding
ceremony, the other that she had repented of it within a few
minutes of returning home. Obviously something had occurred
during the morning, then, to cause her to change her mind. What
could that something be? She could not have spoken to anyone
when she was out, for she had been in the company of the
bridegroom. Had she seen someone, then? If she had, it must be
someone from America because she had spent so short a time in
this country that she could hardly have allowed anyone to ac-
quire so deep an influence over her that the mere sight of him
would induce her to change her plans so completely. You see we
have already arrived, by a process of exclusion, at the idea that
she might have seen an American. Then who could this Ameri-
can be, and why should he possess so much influence over her?
It might be a lover; it might be a husband. Her young woman-
hood had, I knew, been spent in rough scenes and under strange
conditions. So far I had got before I ever heard Lord St. Simon's
narrative. When he told us of a man in a pew, of the change in
the bride's manner, of so transparent a device for obtaining a
note as the dropping of a bouquet, of her resort to her confiden-
tial maid, and of her very significant allusion to claimjumping --
which in miners' parlance means taking possession of that which
another person has a prior claim to -- the whole situation became
absolutely clear. She had gone off with a man, and the man was
either a lover or was a previous husband -- the chances being in
favour of the latter."
  "And how in the world did you find them?"
  "It might have been difficult, but friend Lestrade held infor-
mation in his hands the value of which he did not himself know.
The initials were, of course, of the highest importance, but more
valuable still was it to know that within a week he had settled his
bill at one of the most select London hotels."
  "How did you deduce the select?"
  "By the select prices. Eight shillings for a bed and eightpence
for a glass of sherry pointed to one of the most expensive hotels.
There are not many in London which charge at that rate. In the
second one which I visited in Northumberland Avenue, I learned
by an inspection of the book that Francis H. Moulton, an Ameri-
can gentleman, had left only the day before, and on looking over
the entries against him, I came upon the very items which I had
seen in the duplicate bill. His letters were to be forwarded to 226
Gordon Square; so thither I travelled, and being fortunate enough
to find the loving couple at home, l ventured to give them some
paternal advice and to point out to them that it would be better in
every way that they should make their position a little clearer
both to the general public and to Lord St. Simon in particular. I
invited them to meet him here, and, as you see, I made him keep
the appointment."
  "But with no very good result," I remarked. "His conduct
was certainly not very gracious."
  "Ah, Watson," said Holmes, smiling, "perhaps you would
not be very gracious either, if, after all the trouble of wooing and
wedding, you found yourself deprived in an instant of wife and
of fortune. I think that we may judge Lord St. Simon very
mercifully and thank our stars that we are never likely to find
ourselves in the same position. Draw your chair up and hand me
my violin, for the only problem we have still to solve is how to
while away these bleak autumnal evenings."

                The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet

  "Holmes," said I as I stood one morning in our bow-window
looking down the street, "here is a madman coming along. It
seems rather sad that his relatives should allow him to come out
  My friend rose lazily from his armchair and stood with his
hands in the pockets of his dressing-gown, looking over my
shoulder. It was a bright, crisp February morning, and the snow
of the day before still lay deep upon the ground, shimmering
brightly in the wintry sun. Down the centre of Baker Street it had
been ploughed into a brown crumbly band by the traffic, but at
either side and on the heaped-up edges of the foot-paths it still
lay as white as when it fell. The gray pavement had been cleaned
and scraped, but was still dangerously slippery, so that there
were fewer passengers than usual. Indeed, from the direction of
the Metropolitan Station no one was coming save the single
gentleman whose eccentric conduct had drawn my attention.
  He was a man of about fifty, tall, portly, and imposing, with a
massive, strongly marked face and a commanding figure. He
was dressed in a sombre yet rich style, in black frock-coat,
shining hat, neat brown gaiters, and well-cut pearl-gray trousers.
Yet his actions were in absurd contrast to the dignity of his dress
and features, for he was running hard, with occasional little
springs, such as a weary man gives who is little accustomed to
set any tax upon his legs. As he ran he jerked his hands up and
down, waggled his head, and writhed his face into the most
extraordinary contortions.
  "What on earth can be the matter with him?" I asked. "He is
looking up at the numbers of the houses."
  "I believe that he is coming here," said Holmes, rubbing his
hands .
  "Yes; I rather think he is coming to consult me professionally.
I think that I recognize the symptoms. Ha! did I not tell you?"
As he spoke, the man, puffing and blowing, rushed at our door
and pulled at our bell until the whole house resounded with the
  A few moments later he was in our room, still puffing, still
gesticulating, but with so fixed a look of grief and despair in his
eyes that our smiles were turned in an instant to horror and pity.
For a while he could not get his words out, but swayed his body
and plucked at his hair like one who has been driven to the
extreme limits of his reason. Then, suddenly springing to his
feet, he beat his head against the wall with such force that we
both rushed upon him and tore him away to the centre of the
room. Sherlock Holmes pushed him down into the easy-chair
and, sitting beside him, patted his hand and chatted with him in
the easy, soothing tones which he knew so well how to employ.
  "You have come to me to tell your story, have you not?" said
he. "You are fatigued with your haste. Pray wait until you have
recovered yourself, and then I shall be most happy to look into
any little problem which you may submit to me."
  The man sat for a minute or more with a heaving chest,
fighting against his emotion. Then he passed his handkerchief
over his brow, set his lips tight, and turned his face towards us.
  "No doubt you think me mad?" said he.
  "I see that you have had some great trouble," responded
  "Cod knows I have! -- a trouble which is enough to unseat my
reason, so sudden and so terrible is it. Public disgrace I might
have faced, although I am a man whose character has never yet
borne a stain. Private affliction also is the lot of every man; but
the two coming together, and in so frightful a form, have been
enough to shake my very soul. Besides, it is not I alone. The
very noblest in the land may suffer unless some way be found
out of this horrible affair."
  "Pray compose yourself, sir," said Holmes, "and let me have
a clear account of who you are and what it is that has befallen
  "My name," answered our visitor, "is probably familiar to
your ears. I am Alexander Holder, of the banking firm of Holder
& Stevenson, of Threadneedle Street."
  The name was indeed well known to us as belonging to the
senior partner in the second largest private banking concern in
the City of London. What could have happened, then, to bring
one of the foremost citizens of London to this most pitiable pass?
We waited, all curiosity, until with another effort he braced
himself to tell his story.
  "I feel that time is of value," said he; "that is why I hastened
here when the police inspector suggested that I should secure
your cooperation. I came to Baker Street by the Underground
and hurried from there on foot, for the cabs go slowly through
this snow. That is why I was so out of breath, for I am a man
who takes very little exercise. I feel better now, and I will put
the facts before you as shortly and yet as clearly as I can.
  "It is, of course, well known to you that in a successful
banking business as much depends upon our being able to find
remunerative investments for our funds as upon our increasing
our connection and the number of our depositors. One of our
most lucrative means of laying out money is in the shape of
loans, where the security is unimpeachable. We have done a
good deal in this direction during the last few years, and there
are many noble families to whom we have advanced large sums
upon the security of their pictures, libraries, or plate.
  "Yesterday morning I was seated in my office at the bank
when a card was brought in to me by one of the clerks. I started
when I saw the name, for it was that of none other than -- well,
perhaps even to you I had better say no more than that it was a
name which is a household word all over the earth -- one of the
highest, noblest, most exalted names in England. I was over-
whelmed by the honour and attempted, when he entered, to say
so, but he plunged at once into business with the air of a man
who wishes to hurry quickly through a disagreeable task.
  " 'Mr. Holder,' said he, 'I have been informed that you are in
the habit of advancing money.'
  " 'The firm does so when the security is good.' I answered.
  '' 'It is absolutely essential to me,' said he, 'that I should
have 50,000 pounds at once. I could, of course, borrow so trifling a
sum ten times over from my friends, but I much prefer to make it
a matter of business and to carry out that business myself. In my
position you can readily understand that it is unwise to place
one's self under obligations.'
  " 'For how long, may I ask, do you want this sum?' I asked.
  " 'Next Monday I have a large sum due to me, and I shall
then most certainly repay what you advance, with whatever
interest you think it right to charge. But it is very essential to me
that the money should be paid at once.'
  " 'I should be happy to advance it without further parley from
my own private purse,' said I, 'were it not that the strain would
be rather more than it could bear. If, on the other hand, I am to
do it in the name of the firm, then in justice to my partner I must
insist that, even in your case, every businesslike precaution
should be taken.'
  " 'I should much prefer to have it so,' said he, raising up a
square, black morocco case which he had laid beside his chair.
'You have doubtless heard of the Beryl Coronet?'
  " 'One of the most precious public possessions of the em-
pire,' said I.
  " 'Precisely.' He opened the case, and there, imbedded in
soft, flesh-coloured velvet, lay the magnificent piece of jewellery
which he had named. 'There are thirty-nine enormous beryls,'
said he, 'and the price of the gold chasing is incalculable. The
lowest estimate would put the worth of the coronet at double the
sum which I have asked. I am prepared to leave it with you as
my security.'
  "I took the precious case into my hands and looked in some
perplexity from it to my illustrious client.
  " 'You doubt its value?' he asked.
  " 'Not at all. I only doubt --'
  " 'The propriety of my leaving it. You may set your mind at
rest about that. I should not dream of doing so were it not
absolutely certain that I should be able in four days to reclaim it.
It is a pure matter of form. Is the security sufficient?'
  " 'Ample. '
  " 'You understand, Mr. Holder, that I am giving you a strong
proof of the confidence which I have in you, founded upon all
that I have heard of you. I rely upon you not only to be discreet
and to refrain from all gossip upon the matter but, above all, to
preserve this coronet with every possible precaution because I
need not say that a great public scandal would be caused if any
harm were to befall it. Any injury to it would be almost as
serious as its complete loss, for there are no beryls in the world
to match these, and it would be impossible to replace them. I
leave it with you, however, with every confidence, and I shall
call for it in person on Monday morning.'
  "Seeing that my client was anxious to leave, I said no more
but, calling for my cashier, I ordered him to pay over fifty
1000 pound notes. When I was alone once more, however, with the
precious case lying upon the table in front of me, I could not but
think with some misgivings of the immense responsibility which
it entailed upon me. There could be no doubt that, as it was a
national possession, a horrible scandal would ensue if any mis-
fortune should occur to it. I already regretted having ever con-
sented to take charge of it. However, it was too late to alter the
matter now, so I locked it up in my private safe and turned once
more to my work.
  "When evening came I felt that it would be an imprudence to
leave so precious a thing in the office behind me. Bankers' safes
had been forced before now, and why should not mine be? If so,
how terrible would be the position in which I should find myself!
I determined, therefore, that for the next few days I would
always carry the case backward and forward with me, so that
it might never be really out of my reach. With this intention,
I called a cab and drove out to my house at Streatham, carrying
the jewel with me. I did not breathe freely until I had taken it
upstairs and locked it in the bureau of my dressing-room.
  "And now a word as to my household, Mr. Holmes, for I
wish you to thoroughly understand the situation. My groom and
my page sleep out of the house, and may be set aside altogether.
I have three maid-servants who have been with me a number of
years and whose absolute reliability is quite above suspicion.
Another, Lucy Parr, the second waiting-maid, has only been in
my service a few months. She came with an excellent character,
however, and has always given me satisfaction. She is a very
pretty girl and has attracted admirers who have occasionally
hung about the place. That is the only drawback which we have
found to her, but we believe her to be a thoroughly good girl in
every way.
  "So much for the servants. My family itself is so small that it
will not take me long to describe it. I am a widower and have an
only son, Arthur. He has been a disappointment to me, Mr.
Holmes --  a grievous disappointment. I have no doubt that I
am myself to blame. People tell me that I have spoiled him. Very
likely I have. When my dear wife died I felt that he was all I had
to love. I could not bear to see the smile fade even for a moment
from his face. I have never denied him a wish. Perhaps it would
have been better for both of us had I been sterner, but I meant it
for the best.
  "It was naturally my intention that he should succeed me in
my business, but he was not of a business turn. He was wild,
wayward, and, to speak the truth, I could not trust him in the
handling of large sums of money. When he was young he
became a member of an aristocratic club, and there, having
charming manners, he was soon the intimate of a number of men
with long purses and expensive habits. He learned to play heav-
ily at cards and to squander money on the turf, until he had again
and again to come to me and implore me to give him an advance
upon his allowance, that he might settle his debts of honour. He
tried more than once to break away from the dangerous company
which he was keeping, but each time the influence of his friend,
Sir George Burnwell, was enough to draw him back again.
  "And. indeed, I could not wonder that such a man as Sir
George Bumwell should gain an influence over him, for he has
frequently brought him to my house, and I have found myself
that I could hardly resist the fascination of his manner. He is
older than Arthur, a man of the world to his finger-tips, one who
had been everywhere. seen everything, a brilliant talker, and a
man of great personal beauty. Yet when I think of him in cold
blood, far away from the glamour of his presence, I am con-
vinced from his cynical speech and the look which I have caught
in his eyes that he is one who should be deeply distrusted. So I
think, and so, too, thinks my little Mary, who has a woman's
quick insight into character.
  "And now there is only she to be described. She is my niece;
but when my brother died five years ago and left her alone in the
world I adopted her, and have looked upon her ever since as my
daughter. She is a sunbeam in my house -- sweet, loving, beauti-
ful, a wonderful manager and housekeeper, yet as tender and
quiet and gentle as a woman could be. She is my right hand. I do
not know what I could do without her. In only one matter has
she ever gone against my wishes. Twice my boy has asked her to
marry him, for he loves her devotedly, but each time she has
refused him. I think that if anyone could have drawn him into the
right path it would have been she, and that his marriage might
have changed his whole life; but now, alas! it is too late --
forever too late!
  "Now, Mr. Holmes, you know the people who live under my
roof, and I shall continue with my miserable story.
  "When we were taking coffee in the drawing-room that night
after dinner, I told Arthur and Mary my experience, and of the
precious treasure which we had under our roof, suppressing only
the name of my client. Lucy Parr, who had brought in the
coffee, had, I am sure, left the room; but I cannot swear that the
door was closed. Mary and Arthur were much interested and
wished to see the famous coronet, but I thought it better not to
disturb it.
  " 'Where have you put it?' asked Arthur.
  " 'In my own bureau.'
  " 'Well, I hope to goodness the house won't be burgled
during the night.' said he.
  " 'It is locked up,' I answered.
  " 'Oh, any old key will fit that bureau. When I was a young-
ster I have opened it myself with the key of the box-room
cupboard. '
  "He often had a wild way of talking, so that I thought little of
what he said. He followed me to my room, however, that night
with a very grave face.
  " 'Look here, dad,' said he with his eyes cast down, 'can you
let me have 200 pounds?'
  " 'No, I cannot!' I answered sharply. 'I have been far too
generous with you in money matters.'
  " 'You have been very kind,' said he, 'but I must have this
money, or else I can never show my face inside the club again.'
  " 'And a very good thing, too!' I cried.
  " 'Yes, but you would not have me leave it a dishonoured
man,' said he. 'I could not bear the disgrace. I must raise the
money in some way, and if you will not let me have it, then I
must try other means.'
  "I was very angry, for this was the third demand during the
month. 'You shall not have a farthing from me,' I cried, on
which he bowed and left the room without another word.
  "When he was gone I unlocked my bureau, made sure that my
treasure was safe, and locked it again. Then I started to go round
the house to see that all was secure -- a duty which I usually
leave to Mary but which I thought it well to perform myself that
night. As I came down the stairs I saw Mary herself at the side
window of the hall, which she closed and fastened as I approached.
  " 'Tell me, dad,' said she, looking, I thought, a little dis-
turbed, 'did you give Lucy, the maid, leave to go out to-night?'
  " 'Certainly not.'
  " 'She came in just now by the back door. I have no doubt
that she has only been to the side gate to see someone, but I
think that it is hardly safe and should be stopped.'
  " 'You must speak to her in the morning, or I will if you
prefer it. Are you sure that everything is fastened?'
  " 'Quite sure. dad.'
  " 'Then. good-night.' I kissed her and went up to my bed-
room again, where I was soon asleep.
  "I am endeavouring to tell you everything, Mr. Holmes,
which may have any bearing upon the case, but I beg that you
will question me upon any point which I do not make clear."
  "On the contrary, your statement is singularly lucid."
  "I come to a part of my story now in which I should wish to
be particularly so. I am not a very heavy sleeper, and the anxiety
in my mind tended, no doubt, to make me even less so than
usual. About two in the morning. then, I was awakened by some
sound in the house. It had ceased ere I was wide awake, but it
had left an impression behind it as though a window had gently
closed somewhere. I lay listening with all my ears. Suddenly, to
my horror. there was a distinct sound of footsteps moving softly
in the next room. I slipped out of bed, all palpitating with fear,
and peeped round the comer of my dressing-room door.
  " 'Arthur!' I screamed, 'you villain! you thief! How dare you
touch that coronet?'
  "The gas was half up, as I had left it, and my unhappy boy,
dressed only in his shirt and trousers, was standing beside the
light, holding the coronet in his hands. He appeared to be
wrenching at it, or bending it with all his strength. At my cry he
dropped it from his grasp and turned as pale as death. I snatched
it up and examined it. One of the gold corners, with three of the
beryls in it, was missing.
  " 'You blackguard!' I shouted, beside myself with rage. 'You
have destroyed it! You have dishonoured me forever! Where are
the jewels which you have stolen?'
  " 'Stolen!' he cried.
  " 'Yes, thief!' I roared, shaking him by the shoulder.
  " 'There are none missing. There cannot be any missing,'
said he.
  " 'There are three missing. And you know where they are.
Must I call you a liar as well as a thief? Did I not see you trying
to tear off another piece?'
  " 'You have called me names enough,' said he, 'I will not
stand it any longer. I shall not say another word about this
business, since you have chosen to insult me. I will leave your
house in the moming and make my own way in the world.'
  " 'You shall leave it in the hands of the police!' I cried
half-mad with grief and rage. 'I shall have this matter probed to
the bottom.'
  " 'You shall learn nothing from me,' said he with a passion
such as I should not have thought was in his nature. 'If you
choose to call the police, let the police find what they can.'
  "By this time the whole house was astir, for I had raised my
voice in my anger. Mary was the first to rush into my room, and,
at the sight of the coronet and of Arthur's face, she read the
whole story and, with a scream. fell down senscless on the
ground. I sent the house-maid for the police and put the investi-
gation into their hands at once. When the inspector and a consta-
ble entered the house, Arthur, who had stood sullenly with his
arms folded, asked me whether it was my intention to charge
him with theft. I answered that it had ceased to be a private
matter, but had become a public one, since the ruined coronet
was national property. I was determined that the law should have
its way in everything.
  " 'At least,' said he, 'you will not have me arrested at once.
It would be to your advantage as well as mine if I might leave
the house for five minutes.'
  " 'That you may get away, or perhaps that you may conceal
what you have stolen,' said I. And then, realizing the dreadful
position in which I was placed, I implored him to remember that
not only my honour but that of one who was far greater than I
was at stake; and that he threatened to raise a scandal which
would convulse the nation. He might avert it all if he would but
tell me what he had done with the three missing stones.
  " 'You may as well face the matter,' said I; 'you have been
caught in the act, and no confession could make your guilt more
heinous. If you but make such reparation as is in your power, by
telling us where the beryls are, all shall be forgiven and forgotten.'
  " 'Keep your forgiveness for those who ask for it,' he an-
swered, turning away from me with a sneer. I saw that he was
too hardened for any words of mine to influence him. There was
but one way for it. I called in the inspector and gave him into
custody. A search was made at once not only of his person but of
his room and-of every portion of the house where he could
possibly have concealed the gems; but no trace of them could be
found, nor would the wretched boy open his mouth for all our
persuasions and our threats. This morning he was removed to a
cell, and I, after going through all the police formalities, have
hurried round to you to implore you to use your skill in unravel-
ling the matter. The police have openly confessed that they can
at present make nothing of it. You may go to any expense which
you think necessary. I have already offered a reward of lOOO pounds.
My God, what shall I do! I have lost my honour, my gems, and
my son in one night. Oh, what shall I do!"
  He put a hand on either side of his head and rocked himself to
and fro, droning to himself like a child whose grief has got
beyond words.
  Sherlock Holmes sat silent for some few minutes. with his
brows knitted and his eyes fixed upon the fire.
  "Do you receive much company?" he asked.
  "None save my partner with his family and an occasional
friend of Arthur's. Sir George Burnwell has been several times
lately. No one else, I think."
  "Do you go out much in society?"
  "Arthur does. Mary and I stay at home. We neither of us care
for it."
  "That is unusual in a young girl."
  "She is of a quiet nature. Besides, she is not so very young.
She is four-and-twenty."
  "This matter, from what you say, seems to have been a shock
to her also."
  "Terrible! She is even more affected than I."
  "You have neither of you any doubt as to your son's guilt?"
  "How can we have when I saw him with my own eyes with
the coronet in his hands."
  "I hardly consider that a conclusive proof. Was the remainder
of the coronet at all injured?"
  "Yes, it was twisted."
  "Do you not think, then, that he might have been trying to
straighten it?"
  "God bless you! You are doing what you can for him and for
me. But it is too heavy a task. What was he doing there at all? If
his purpose were innocent, why did he not say so?"
  "Precisely. And if it were guilty, why did he not invent a lie?
His silence appears to me to cut both ways. There are several
singular points about the case. What did the police think of the
noise which awoke you from your sleep?"
  "They considered that it might be caused by Arthur's closing
his bedroom door."
  "A likely story! As if a man bent on felony would slam his
door so as to wake a household. What did they say, then, of the
disappearance of these gems?"
  "They are still sounding the planking and probing the furni-
ture in the hope of finding them."
  "Have they thought of looking outside the house?"
  "Yes, they have shown extraordinary energy. The whole gar-
den has already been minutely examined."
  "Now, my dear sir," said Holmes. "is it not obvious to you
now that this matter really strikes very much deeper than either
you or the police were at first inclined to think? It appeared to
you to be a simple case; to me it seems exceedingly complex.
Consider what is involved by your theory. You suppose that your
son came down from his bed, went. at great risk, to your
dressing-room, opened your bureau, took out your coronet, broke
otf by main force a small portion of it, went off to some other
place, concealed three gems out of the thirty-nine. with such
skill that nobody can find them, and then returned with the other
thirty-six into the room in which he exposed himself to the
greatest danger of being discovered. I ask you now, is such a
theory tenable?"
  "But what other is there?" cried the banker with a gesture of
despair. "If his motives were innocent, why does he not explain
  "It is our task to find that out," replied Holmes; "so now, if
you please, Mr. Holder, we will set off for Streatham together,
and devote an hour to glancing a little more closely into details."
  My friend insisted upon my accompanying them in their expe-
dition, which I was eager enough to do, for my curiosity and
sympathy were deeply stirred by the story to which we had
listened. I confess that the guilt of the banker's son appeared to
me to be as obvious as it did to his unhappy father, but still I had
such faith in Holmes's judgment that I felt that there must be
some grounds for hope as long as he was dissatisfied with the
accepted explanation. He hardly spoke a word the whole way out
to the southern suburb, but sat with his chin upon his breast and
his hat drawn over his eyes, sunk in the deepest thought. Our
client appeared to have taken fresh heart at the little glimpse of
hope which had been presented to him, and he even broke into a
desultory chat with me over his business affairs. A short railway
journey and a shorter walk brought us to Fairbank, the modest
residence of the great financier.
  Fairbank was a good-sized square house of white stone, stand-
ing back a little from the road. A double carriage-sweep, with a
snow-clad lawn, stretched down in front to two large iron gates
which closed the entrance. On the right side was a small wooden
thicket, which led into a narrow path between two neat hedges
stretching from the road to the kitchen door, and forming the
tradesmen's entrance. On the left ran a lane which led to the
stables, and was not itself within the grounds at all, being a
public, though little used, thoroughfare. Holmes left us standing
at the door and walked slowly all round the house, across the
front, down the tradesmen's path, and so round by the garden
behind into the stable lane. So long was he that Mr. Holder and I
went into the dining-room and waited by the fire until he should
return. We were sitting there in silence when the door opened
and a young lady came in. She was rather above the middle
height, slim, with dark hair and eyes, which seemed the darker
against the absolute pallor of her skin. I do not think that I have
ever seen such deadly paleness in a woman's face. Her lips, too,
were bloodless, but her eyes were flushed with crying. As she
swept silently into the room she impressed me with a greater
sense of grief than the banker had done in the morning, and it
was the more striking in her as she was evidently a woman of
strong character, with immense capacity for self-restraint. Disre-
garding my presence, she went straight to her uncle and passed
her hand over his head with a sweet womanly caress.
  "You have given orders that Arthur should be liberated, have
you not, dad?" she asked.
  "No, no, my girl, the matter must be probed to the bottom."
  "But I am so sure that he is innocent. You know what
woman's instincts are. I know that he has done no harm and that
you will be sorry for having acted so harshly."
  "Why is he silent, then, if he is innocent?"
  "Who knows? Perhaps because he was so angry that you
should suspect him."
  "How could I help suspecting him, when I actually saw him
with the coronet in his hand?"
  "Oh, but he had only picked it up to look at it. Oh, do, do
take my word for it that he is innocent. Let the matter drop and
say no more. It is so dreadful to think of our dear Arthur in
  "I shall never let it drop until the gems are found -- never,
Mary! Your affection for Arthur blinds you as to the awful
consequences to me. Far from hushing the thing up, I have
brought a gentleman down from London to inquire more deeply
into it."
  "This gentleman?" she asked, facing round to me.
  "No, his friend. He wished us to leave him alone. He is round
in the stable lane now."
  "The stable lane?" She raised her dark eyebrows. "What can
he hope to find there? Ah! this, I suppose, is he. I trust, sir, that
you will succeed in proving, what I feel sure is the truth, that my
cousin Arthur is innocent of this crime."
  "I fully share your opinion, and I trust, with you, that we may
prove it," returned Holmes, going back to the mat to knock the
snow from his shoes. "I believe I have the honour of addressing
Miss Mary Holder. Might I ask you a question or two?"
  "Pray do, sir, if it may help to clear this horrible affair up."
  "You heard nothing yourself last night?"
  "Nothing, until my uncle here began to speak loudly. I heard
that, and I came down."
  "You shut up the windows and doors the night before. Did
you fasten all the windows?"
  "Yes ."
  "Were they all fastened this morning?"
  "You have a maid who has a sweetheart? I think that you
remarked to your uncle last night that she had been out to see
  "Yes, and she was the girl who waited in the drawing-room.
and who may have heard uncle's remarks about the coronet."
  "I see. You infer that she may have gone out to tell her
sweetheart, and that the two may have planned the robbery."
  "But what is the good of all these vague theories," cried the
banker impatiently, "when I have told you that I saw Arthur
with the coronet in his hands?"
  "Wait a little, Mr. Holder. We must come back to that. About
this girl, Miss Holder. You saw her return by the kitchen door, I
  "Yes; when I went to see if the door was fastened for the
night I met her slipping in. I saw the man, too, in the gloom."
  "Do you know him?''
  "Oh, yes! he is the green-grocer who brings our vegetables
round. His name is Francis Prosper."
  "He stood," said Holmes, "to the left of the door -- that is to
say, farther up the path than is necessary to reach the door?"
  "Yes, he did."
  "And he is a man with a wooden leg?"
  Something like fear sprang up in the young lady's expressive
black eyes. "Why, you are like a magician," said she. "How do
you know that?" She smiled, but there was no answering smile
in Holmes's thin, eager face.
  "I should be very glad now to go upstairs," said he. "I shall
probably wish to go over the outside of the house again. Perhaps
I had better take a look at the lower windows before I go up."
  He walked swiftly round from one to the other, pausing only
at the large one which looked from the hall onto the stable lane.
This he opened and made a very careful examination of the sill
with his powerful magnifying lens. "Now we shall go upstairs,"
said he at last.
  The banker's dressing-room was a plainly furnished little cham-
ber, with a gray carpet, a large bureau, and a long mirror.
Holmes went to the bureau first and looked hard at the lock.
  "Which key was used to open it?" he asked.
  "That which my son himself indicated -- that of the cupboard
of the lumber-room."
  "Have you it here?"
  "That is it on the dressing-table."
  Sherlock Holmes took it up and opened the bureau.
  "It is a noiseless lock," said he. "It is no wonder that it did
not wake you. This case, I presume, contains the coronet. We
must have a look at it." He opened the case, and taking out the
diadem he laid it upon the table. It was a magnificent specimen
of the jeweller's art, and the thiny-six stones were the finest that
I have ever seen. At one side of the coronet was a cracked edge,
where a corner holding three gems had been torn away.
  "Now, Mr. Holder," said Holmes, "here is the corner which
corresponds to that which has been so unfortunately lost. Might I
beg that you will break it off."
  The banker recoiled in horror. "I should not dream of trying,"
said he.
  "Then I will." Holmes suddenly bent his strength upon it, but
without result. "I feel it give a little," said he; "but, though I
am exceptionally strong in the fingers, it would take me all my
time to break it. An ordinary man could not do it. Now, what do
you think would happen if I did break it, Mr. Holder? There
would be a noise like a pistol shot. Do you tell me that all this
happened within a few yards of your bed and that you heard
nothing of it?"
  "I do not know what to think. It is all dark to me."
  "But perhaps it may grow lighter as we go. What do you
think, Miss Holder?"
  "I confess that I still share my uncle's perplexity."
  "Your son had no shoes or slippers on when you saw him?"
  "He had nothing on save only his trousers and shirt."
  "Thank you. We have certainly been favoured with extraordi-
nary luck during this inquiry, and it will be entirely our own
fault if we do not succeed in clearing the matter up. With your
pemmission, Mr. Holder, I shall now continue my investigations
  He went alone, at his own request, for he explained that any
unnecessary footmarks might make his task more difficult. For
an hour or more he was at work, returning at last with his feet
heavy with snow and his features as inscrutable as ever.
  "I think that I have seen now all that there is to see, Mr.
Holder," said he; "I can serve you best by returning to my
  "But the gems, Mr. Holmes. Where are they?"
  "I cannot tell."
  The banker wrung his hands. "I shall never see them again!"
he cried. "And my son? You give me hopes?"
  "My opinion is in no way altered."
  "Then, for God's sake, what was this dark business which
was acted in my house last night?"
  "If you can call upon me at my Baker Street rooms to-morrow
morning between nine and ten I shall be happy to do what I can
to make it clearer. I understand that you give me carte blanche to
act for you, provided only that I get back the gems, and that you
place no limit on the sum I may draw."
  "I would give my fortune to have them back."
  "Very good. I shall look into the matter between this and
then. Good-bye; it is just possible that I may have to come over
here again before evening."
  It was obvious to me that my companion's mind was now
made up about the case, although what his conclusions were was
more than I could even dimly imagine. Several times during our
homeward journey I endeavoured to sound him upon the point,
but he always glided away to some other topic, until at last I
gave it over in despair. It was not yet three when we found
ourselves in our rooms once more. He hurried to his chamber
and was down again in a few minutes dressed as a common
loafer. With his collar turned up, his shiny, seedy coat, his red
cravat, and his worn boots, he was a perfect sample of the class.
  "I think that this should do," said he, glancing into the glass
above the fireplace. "l only wish that you could come with me,
Watson, but I fear that it won't do. I may be on the trail in this
matter, or I may be following a will-o'-the-wisp, but I shall soon
know which it is. I hope that I may be back in a few hours." He
cut a slice of beef from the joint upon the sideboard, sandwiched
it between two rounds of bread, and thrusting this rude meal into
his pocket he started off upon his expedition.
  I had just finished my tea when he returned, evidently in excel-
lent spirits, swinging an old elastic-sided boot in his hand. He
chucked it down into a corner and helped himself to a cup of
  "I only looked in as I passed," said he. "I am going right on."
  "Where to?"
  "Oh, to the other side of the West End. It may be some time
before I get back. Don't wait up for me in case I should be
  "How are you getting on?"
  "Oh, so so. Nothing to complain of. I have been out to
Streatham since I saw you last, but I did not call at the house. It
is a very sweet little problem, and I would not have missed it for
a good deal. However, I must not sit gossiping here, but must
get these disreputable clothes off and return to my highly re-
spectable self."
  I could see by his manner that he had stronger reasons for
satisfaction than his words alone would imply. His eyes twin-
kled, and there was even a touch of colour upon his sallow
cheeks. He hastened upstairs, and a few minutes later I heard the
slam of the hall door, which told me that he was off once more
upon his congenial hunt.
  I waited until midnight, but there was no sign of his return, so
I retired to my room. It was no uncommon thing for him to be
away for days and nights on end when he was hot upon a scent,
so that his lateness caused me no surprise. I do not know at what
hour he came in, but when I came down to breakfast in the
morning there he was with a cup of coffee in one hand and the
paper in the other, as fresh and trim as possible.
  "You will excuse my beginning without you, Watson," said
he, "but you remember that our client has rather an early
appointment this morning."
  "Why, it is after nine now," I answered. "I should not be
surprised if that were he. I thought I heard a ring."
  It was, indeed, our friend the financier. I was shocked by the
change which had come over him, for his face which was
naturally of a broad and massive mould, was now pinched and
fallen in, while his hair seemed to me at least a shade whiter. He
entered with a weariness and lethargy which was even more
painful than his violence of the morning before, and he dropped
heavily into the armchair which I pushed forward for him.
  "I do not know what I have done to be so severely tried,"
said he. "Only two days ago I was a happy and prosperous man,
without a care in the world. Now I am left to a lonely and
dishonoured age. One sorrow comes close upon the heels of
another. My niece, Mary, has deserted me."
  "Deserted you?"
  "Yes. Her bed this morning had not been slept in, her room
was empty, and a note for me lay upon the hall table. I had said
to her last night, in sorrow and not in anger, that if she had
married my boy all might have been well with him. Perhaps it
was thoughtless of me to say so. It is to that remark that she
refers in this note:

          "I feel that I have brought trouble upon you, and that if I
         had acted differently this terrible misfortune might never
         have occurred. I cannot, with this thought in my mind, ever
         again be happy under your roof, and I feel that I must leave
         you forever. Do not worry about my future, for that is
         provided for; and, above all, do not search for me, for it
         will be fruitless labour and an ill-service to me. In life or in
         death, I am ever
                                                      "Your loving

  "What could she mean by that note, Mr. Holmes? Do you think
it points to suicide?"
  "No, no, nothing of the kind. It is perhaps the best possible
solution. I trust, Mr. Holder, that you are nearing the end of
your troubles."
  "Ha! You say so! You have heard something, Mr. Holmes;
you have learned something! Where are the gems?"
  "You would not think 1000 pounds apiece an excessive sum for
  "I would pay ten."
  "That would be unnecessary. Three thousand will cover the
matter. And there is a little reward, I fancy. Have you your
check-book? Here is a pen. Better make it out for 4000 pounds."
  With a dazed face the banker made out the required check.
Holmes walked over to his desk, took out a little triangular piece
of gold with three gems in it, and threw it down upon the table.
  With a shriek of joy our client clutched it up.
  "You have it!" he gasped. "I am saved! I am saved!"
  The reaction of joy was as passionate as his grief had been,
and he hugged his recovered gems to his bosom.
  "There is one other thing you owe, Mr. Holder," said Sher-
lock Holmes rather sternly.
  "Owe!" He caught up a pen. "Name the sum, and I will pay
  "No, the debt is not to me. You owe a very humble apology
to that noble lad, your son, who has carried himself in this
matter as I should be proud to see my own son do, should I ever
chance to have one."
  "Then it was not Arthur who took them?''
  "I told you yesterday, and I repeat to-day, that it was not."
  "You are sure of it! Then let us hurry to him at once to let
him know that the truth is known."
  "He knows it already. When I had cleared it all up I had an
interview with him. and finding that he would not tell me the
story, I told it to him, on which he had to confess that I was right
and to add the very few details which were not yet quite clear to
me. Your news of this morning, however, may open his lips."
  "For heaven's sake, tell me, then, what is this extraordinary
mystery !"
  "I will do so, and I will show you the steps by which I
reached it. And let me say to you, first, that which it is hardest
for me to say and for you to hear: there has been an understand-
ing between Sir George Burnwell and your niece Mary. They
have now fled together."
  "My Mary? Impossible!"
  "It is unfortunately more than possible; it is certain. Neither
you nor your son knew the true character of this man when you
admitted him into your family circle. He is one of the most
dangerous men in England -- a ruined gambler, an absolutely
desperate villain, a man without heart or conscience. Your niece
knew nothing of such men. When he breathed his vows to her,
as he had done to a hundred before her, she flattered herself that
she alone had touched his heart. The devil knows best what he
said, but at least she became his tool and was in the habit of
seeing him nearly every evening."
  "I cannot, and I will not, believe it!" cried the banker with an
ashen face.
  "I will tell you, then, what occurred in your house last night.
Your niece, when you had, as she thought, gone to your room.
slipped down and talked to her lover through the window which
leads into the stable lane. His footmarks had pressed right through
the snow, so long had he stood there. She told him of the
coronet. His wicked lust for gold kindled at the news, and he
bent her to his will. I have no doubt that she loved you, but there
are women in whom the love of a lover extinguishes all other
loves, and I think that she must have been one. She had hardly
listened to his instructions when she saw you coming downstairs,
on which she closed the window rapidly and told you about one
of the servants' escapade with her wooden-legged lover, which
was all perfectly true.
  "Your boy, Arthur, went to bed after his interview with you
but he slept badly on account of his uneasiness about his club
debts. In the middle of the night he heard a soft tread pass his
door, so he rose and, looking out, was surprised to see his
cousin walking very stealthily along the passage until she disap-
peared into your dressing-room. Petrified with astonishment. the
lad slipped on some clothes and waited there in the dark to see
what would come of this strange affair. Presently she emerged
from the room again, and in the light of the passage-lamp your
son saw that she carried the precious coronet in her hands. She
passed down the stairs, and he, thrilling with horror, ran along
and slipped behind the curtain near your door, whence he could
see what passed in the hall beneath. He saw her stealthily open
the window, hand out the coronet to someone in the gloom, and
then closing it once more hurry back to her room, passing quite
close to where he stood hid behind the curtain.
  "As long as she was on the scene he could not take any action
without a horrible exposure of the woman whom he loved. But
the instant that she was gone he realized how crushing a misfor-
tune this would be for you, and how all-important it was to set it
right. He rushed down, just as he was, in his bare feet, opened
the window, sprang out into the snow, and ran down the lane,
where he could see a dark figure in the moonlight. Sir George
Burnwell tried to get away, but Arthur caught him, and there
was a struggle between them, your lad tugging at one side of the
coronet, and his opponent at the other. In the scuffle, your son
struck Sir George and cut him over the eye. Then something
suddenly snapped, and your son, finding that he had the coronet
in his hands, rushed back, closed the window, ascended to your
room, and had just observed that the coronet had been twisted in
the struggle and was endeavouring to straighten it when you
appeared upon the scene."
  "Is it possible?" gasped the banker.
  "You then roused his anger by calling him names at a moment
when he felt that he had deserved your warmest thanks. He could
not explain the true state of affairs without betraying one who
certainly deserved little enough consideration at his hands. He
took the more chivalrous view, however, and preserved her
  "And that was why she shrieked and fainted when she saw
the coronet," cried Mr. Holder. "Oh, my God! what a blind
fool I have been! And his asking to be allowed to go out for five
minutes! The dear fellow wanted to see if the missing piece were
at the scene of the struggle. How cruelly I have misjudged him!'
  "When I arrived at the house," continued Holmes, "I at once
went very carefully round it to observe if there were any traces in
the snow which might help me. I knew that none had fallen since
the evening before, and also that there had been a strong frost to
preserve impressions. I passed along the tradesmen's path, but
found it all trampled down and indistinguishable. Just beyond it,
however, at the far side of the kitchen door, a woman had stood
and talked with a man, whose round impressions on one side
showed that he had a wooden leg. I could even tell that they had
been disturbed, for the woman had run back swiftly to the door,
as was shown by the deep toe and light heel marks, while
Wooden-leg had waited a little, and then had gone away. I
thought at the time that this might be the maid and her sweet-
heart, of whom you had already spoken to me, and inquiry
showed it was so. I passed round the garden without seeing
anything more than random tracks, which I took to be the police;
but when I got into the stable lane a very long and complex story
was written in the snow in front of me.
  "There was a double line of tracks of a booted man, and a
second double line which I saw with delight belonged to a man
with naked feet. I was at once convinced from what you had told
me that the latter was your son. The first had walked both ways,
but the other had run swiftly, and as his tread was marked in
places over the depression of the boot, it was obvious that he had
passed after the other. I followed them up and found they led to
the hall window, where Boots had worn all the snow away while
waiting. Then I walked to the other end, which was a hundred
yards or more down the lane. I saw where Boots had faced
round, where the snow was cut up as though there had been a
struggle, and, finally, where a few drops of blood had fallen, to
show me that I was not mistaken. Boots had then run down the
lane, and another little smudge of blood showed that it was he
who had been hurt. When he came to the highroad at the other
end, I found that the pavement had been cleared, so there was an
end to that clue.
  "On entering the house, however, I examined, as you remem-
ber, the sill and framework of the hall window with my lens, and
I could at once see that someone had passed out. I could distin-
guish the outline of an instep where the wet foot had been placed
in coming in. I was then beginning to be able to form an opinion
as to what had occurred. A man had waited outside the window;
someone had brought the gems; the deed had been overseen by
your son; he had pursued the thief; had struggled with him; they
had each tugged at the coronet, their united strength causing
injuries which neither alone could have effected. He had returned
with the prize, but had left a fragment in the grasp of his
opponent. So far I was clear. The question now was, who was
the man and who was it brought him the coronet?
  "It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the
truth. Now, I knew that it was not you who had brought it down,
so there only remained your niece and the maids. But if it were
the maids, why should your son allow himself to be accused in
their place? There could be no possible reason. As he loved his
cousin, however, there was an excellent explanation why he
should retain her secret -- the more so as the secret was a dis-
graceful one. When I remembered that you had seen her at that
window, and how she had fainted on seeing the coronet again,
my conjecture became a certainty.
  "And who could it be who was her confederate? A lover
evidently, for who else could outweigh the love and gratitude
which she must feel to you? I knew that you went out little, and
that your circle of friends was a very limited one. But among
them was Sir George Burnwell. I had heard of him before as
being a man of evil reputation among women. It must have been
he who wore those boots and retained the missing gems. Even
though he knew that Arthur had discovered him, he might still
flatter himself that he was safe, for the lad could not say a word
without compromising his own family.
  "Well, your own good sense will suggest what measures I
took next. I went in the shape of a loafer to Sir George's house,
managed to pick up an acquaintance with his valet, learned that
his master had cut his head the night before, and, finally, at the
expense of six shillings, made all sure by buying a pair of his
cast-off shoes. With these I journeyed down to Streatham and
saw that they exactly fitted the tracks."
  "I saw an ill-dressed vagabond in the lane yesterday evening,"
said Mr. Holder.
  "Precisely. It was I. I found that I had my man, so I came
home and changed my clothes. It was a delicate part which I had
to play then, for I saw that a prosecution must be avoided to
avert scandal, and I knew that so astute a villain would see that
our hands were tied in the matter. I went and saw him. At first,
of course, he denied everything. But when I gave him every
particular that had occurred, he tried to bluster and took down a
life-preserver from the wall. I knew my man, however, and I
clapped a pistol to his head before he could strike. Then he
became a little more reasonable. I told him that we would give
him a price for the stones he held lOOO pounds apiece. That brought
out the first signs of grief that he had shown. 'Why, dash it all!'
said he, 'I've let them go at six hundred for the three!' I soon
managed to get the address of the receiver who had them, on
promising him that there would be no prosecution. Off I set to
him, and after much chaffering I got our stones at 1000 pounds apiece.
Then I looked in upon your son, told him that all was right, and
eventually got to my bed about two o'clock, after what I may
call a really hard day's work."
  "A day which has saved England from a great public scan-
dal," said the banker, rising. "Sir, I cannot find words to thank
you, but you shall not find me ungrateful for what you have
done. Your skill has indeed exceeded all that I have heard of it.
And now I must fly to my dear boy to apologize to him for the
wrong which I have done him. As to what you tell me of poor
Mary, it goes to my very heart. Not even your skill can inform
me where she is now."
  "I think that we may safely say," returned Holmes, "that she
is wherever Sir George Burnwell is. It is equally certain, too,
that whatever her sins are, they will soon receive a more than
sufficient punishment."

               The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

  "To the man who loves art for its own sake," remarked Sher-
lock Holmes, tossing aside the advertisement sheet of the Daily
Telegraph, "it is frequently in its least important and lowliest
manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived. It is
pleasant to me to observe, Watson, that you have so far grasped
this truth that in these little records of our cases which you have
been good enough to draw up, and, I am bound to say, occasion-
ally to embellish, you have given prominence not so much to
the many causes celebres and sensational trials in which I have
figured but rather to those incidents which may have been trivial
in themselves, but which have given room for those faculties of
deduction and of logical synthesis which I have made my special
  "And yet," said I, smiling, "I cannot quite hold myself
absolved from the charge of sensationalism which has been
urged against my records."
  "You have erred, perhaps," he observed, taking up a glowing
cinder with the tongs and lighting with it the long cherry-wood
pipe which was wont to replace his clay when he was in a
disputatious rather than a meditative mood --" you have erred
perhaps in attempting to put colour and life into each of your
statements instead of confining yourself to the task of placing
upon record that severe reasoning from cause to effect which is
really the only notable feature about the thing."
  "It seems to me that I have done you full justice in the
matter," I remarked with some coldness, for I was repelled by
the egotism which I had more than once observed to be a strong
factor in my friend's singular character.
  "No, it is not selfishness or conceit," said he, answering, as
was his wont, my thoughts rather than my words. "If I claim full
justice for my art, it is because it is an impersonal thing -- a thing
beyond myself. Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is
upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.
You have degraded what should have been a course of lectures
into a series of tales."
  It was a cold morning of the early spring, and we sat after
breakfast on either side of a cheery fire in the old room at Baker
Street. A thick fog rolled down between the lines of dun-coloured
houses, and the opposing windows loomed like dark, shapeless
blurs through the heavy yellow wreaths. Our gas was lit and
shone on the white cloth and glimmer of china and metal, for the
table had not been cleared yet. Sherlock Holmes had been silent
all the morning, dipping continuously into the advertisement
columns of a succession of papers until at last, having apparently
given up his search, he had emerged in no very sweet temper to
lecture me upon my literary shortcomings.
  "At the same time," he remarked after a pause, during which
he had sat puffing at his long pipe and gazing down into the fire,
"you can hardly be open to a charge of sensationalism, for out
of these cases which you have been so kind as to interest
yourself in, a fair proportion do not treat of crime, in its legal
sense, at all. The small matter in which I endeavoured to help
the King of Bohemia, the singular experience of Miss Mary
Sutherland, the problem connected with the man with the twisted
lip, and the incident of the noble bachelor, were all matters
which are outside the pale of the law. But in avoiding the
sensational, I fear that you may have bordered on the trivial."
  "The end may have been so," I answered, "but the methods I
hold to have been novel and of interest."
  "Pshaw, my dear fellow, what do the public, the great unob-
servant public, who could hardly tell a weaver by his tooth or a
compositor by his left thumb, care about the finer shades of
analysis and deduction! But, indeed, if you are trivial. I cannot
blame you, for the days of the great cases are past. Man, or at
least criminal man, has lost all enterprise and originality. As to
my own little practice, it seems to be degenerating into an
agency for recovering lost lead pencils and giving advice to
young ladies from boarding-schools. I think that I have touched
bottom at last, however. This note I had this morning marks my
zero-point, I fancy. Read it!" He tossed a crumpled letter across
to me.
  It was dated from Montague Place upon the preceding eve-
ning, and ran thus:

        I am very anxious to consult you as to whether I should
      or should not accept a situation which has been offered to
      me as governess. I shall call at half-past ten to-morrow if I
      do not inconvenience you.
                                                Yours faithfully,
                                                   VIOLET HUNTER.

  "Do you know the young lady?' I asked.
  "Not I."
  "It is half-past ten now."
  "Yes, and I have no doubt that is her ring."
  "It may turn out to be of more interest than you think. You
remember that the affair of the blue carbuncle, which appeared
to be a mere whim at first, developed into a serious investiga-
tion. It may be so in this case, also."
  "Well, let us hope so. But our doubts will very soon be
solved, for here, unless I am much mistaken, is the person in
  As he spoke the door opened and a young lady entered the
room. She was plainly but neatly dressed, with a bright. quick
face, freckled like a plover's egg, and with the brisk manner of a
woman who has had her own way to make in the world.
  "You will excuse my troubling you, I am sure," said she, as
my companion rose to greet her, "but I have had a very strange
experience, and as I have no parents or relations of any sort from
whom I could ask advice, I thought that perhaps you would be
kind enough to tell me what I should do."
  "Pray take a seat, Miss Hunter. I shall be happy to do
anything that I can to serve you."
  I could see that Holmes was favourably impressed by the
manner and speech of his new client. He looked her over in his
searching fashion, and then composed himself, with his lids
drooping and his finger-tips together, to listen to her story.
  "I have been a governess for five years," said she, "in the
family of Colonel Spence Munro, but two months ago the colo-
nel received an appointment at Halifax, in Nova Scotia, and took
his children over to America with him, so that I found myself
without a situation. I advertised, and I answered advertisements,
but without success. At last the little money which I had saved
began to run short, and I was at my wit's end as to what I should
  "There is a well-known agency for governesses in the West
End called Westaway's, and there I used to call about once a
week in order to see whether anything had turned up which
might suit me. Westaway was the name of the founder of the
business, but it is really managed by Miss Stoper. She sits in her
own little office, and the ladies who are seeking employment
wait in an anteroom, and are then shown in one by one, when
she consults her ledgers and sees whether she has anything which
would suit them.
  "Well, when I called last week I was shown into the little
office as usual, but I found that Miss Stoper was not alone. A
prodigiously stout man with a very smiling face and a great
heavy chin which rolled down in fold upon fold over his throat
sat at her elbow with a pair of glasses on his nose, looking very
earnestly at the ladies who entered. As I came in he gave quite a
jump in his chair and turned quickly to Miss Stoper.
  " 'That will do,' said he; 'I could not ask for anything better.
Capital! capital!' He seemed quite enthusiastic and rubbed his
hands together in the most genial fashion. He was such a
comfortable-looking man that it was quite a pleasure to look at
  " 'You are looking for a situation, miss?' he asked.
  " 'Yes, sir.'
  " 'As governess?'
  " 'Yes, sir.'
  " 'And what salary do you ask?'
  " 'I had 4 pounds a month in my last place with Colonel Spence
  " 'Oh, tut, tut! sweating -- rank sweating!' he cried, throwing
his fat hands out into the air like a man who is in a boiling
passion. 'How could anyone offer so pitiful a sum to a lady with
such attractions and accomplishments?'
  " 'My accomplishments, sir, may be less than you imagine,'
said I. 'A little French, a little German, music, and drawing --'
  " 'Tut, tut!' he cried. 'This is all quite beside the question.
The point is, have you or have you not the bearing and deport-
ment of a lady? There it is in a nutshell. If you have not, you are
not fined for the rearing of a child who may some day play a
considerable part in the history of the country. But if you have
why, then, how could any gentleman ask you to condescend to
accept anything under the three figures? Your salary with me,
madam, would commence at 100 pounds a year.'
  "You may imagine, Mr. Holmes, that to me, destitute as I
was, such an offer seemed almost too good to be true. The
gentleman, however, seeing perhaps the look of incredulity upon
my face, opened a pocket-book and took out a note.
  " 'It is also my custom,' said he, smiling in the most pleasant
fashion until his eyes were just two little shining slits amid the
white creases of his face, 'to advance to my young ladies half
their salary beforehand, so that they may meet any little expenses
of their journey and their wardrobe.'
  "It seemed to me that I had never met so fascinating and so
thoughtful a man. As I was already in debt to my tradesmen, the
advance was a great convenience, and yet there was something
unnatural about the whole transaction which made me wish to
know a little more before I quite committed myself.
  " 'May I ask where you live, sir?' said I.
  " 'Hampshire. Charming rural place. The Copper Beeches,
five miles on the far side of Winchester. It is the most lovely
country, my dear young lady, and the dearest old country-house.'
  " 'And my duties, sir? I should be glad to know what they
would be.'
  " 'One child -- one dear little romper just six years old. Oh, if
you could see him killing cockroaches with a slipper! Smack!
smack! smack! Three gone before you could wink!' He leaned
back in his chair and laughed his eyes into his head again.
  "I was a little startled at the nature of the child's amusement,
but the father's laughter made me think that perhaps he was
  " 'My sole duties, then,' I asked, 'are to take charge of a
single child?'
  " 'No, no, not the sole, not the sole, my dear young lady,' he
cried. 'Your duty would be, as I am sure your good sense would
suggest, to obey any little commands my wife might give,
provided always that they were such commands as a lady might
with propriety obey. You see no difficulty, heh?'
  " 'I should be happy to make myself useful.'
  " 'Quite so. In dress now, for example. We are faddy people,
you know -- faddy but kind-hearted. If you were asked to wear
any dress which we might give you, you would not object to our
little whim. Heh?'
  " 'No,' said I, considerably astonished at his words.
  " 'Or to sit here, or sit there, that would not be offensive to
  " 'Oh, no.'
  " 'Or to cut your hair quite short before you come to us?'
  "I could hardly believe my ears. As you may observe, Mr.
Holmes, my hair is somewhat luxuriant, and of a rather peculiar
tint of chestnut. It has been considered artistic. I could not dream
of sacrificing it in this offhand fashion.
  " 'I am afraid that that is quite impossible,' said I. He had
been watching me eagerly out of his small eyes, and I could see
a shadow pass over his face as I spoke.
  " 'I am afraid that it is quite essential,' said he. 'It is a little
fancy of my wife's, and ladies' fancies, you know, madam,
ladies' fancies must be consulted. And so you wonn't cut your
  " 'No, sir, I really could not,' I answered firmly.
  " 'Ah, very well; then that quite settles the matter. It is a pity,
because in other respects you would really have done very
nicely. In that case, Miss Stoper, I had best inspect a few more
of your young ladies.'
  "The manageress had sat all this while busy with her papers
without a word to either of us, but she glanced at me now with
so much annoyance upon her face that I could not help suspect-
ing that she had lost a handsome commission through my refusal.
  " 'Do you desire your name to be kept upon the books?' she
  " 'If you please, Miss Stoper.'
  " 'Well, really, it seems rather useless, since you refuse the
most excellent offers in this fashion,' said she sharply. 'You can
hardly expect us to exert ourselves to find another such opening
for you. Good-day to you, Miss Hunter.' She struck a gong upon
the table, and I was shown out by the page.
  "Well, Mr. Holmes, when I got back to my lodgings and
found little enough in the cupboard, and two or three bills upon
the table. I began to ask myself whether I had not done a very
foolish thing. After all, if these people had strange fads and
expected obedience on the most extraordinary matters, they were
at least ready to pay for their eccentricity. Very few governesses
in England are getting 100 pounds a year. Besides, what use was my
hair to me? Many people are improved by wearing it short and
perhaps I should be among the number. Next day I was inciined
to think that I had made a mistake, and by the day after I was
sure of it. I had almost overcome my pride so far as to go back
to the agency and inquire whether the place was still open when I
received this letter from the gentleman himself. I have it here
and I will read it to you:

                           "The Copper Beeches, near Winchester.

      "DEAR Mlss HUNTER:
        "Miss Stoper has very kindly given me your address, and
      I write from here to ask you whether you have reconsidered
      your decision. My wife is very anxious that you should
      come, for she has been much attracted by my description of
      you. We are willing to give 30 pounds a quarter, or 120 pounds a year,
      so as to recompense you for any little inconvenience which
      our fads may cause you. They are not very exacting, after
      all. My wife is fond of a particular shade of electric blue
      and would like you to wear such a dress indoors in the
      morning. You need not, however, go to the expense of
      purchasing one, as we have one belonging to my dear
      daughter Alice (now in Philadelphia), which would, I should
      think, fit you very well. Then, as to sitting here or there, or
      amusing yourself in any manner indicated, that need cause
      you no inconvenience. As regards your hair, it is no doubt a
      pity, especially as I could not help remarking its beauty
      during our short interview, but I am afraid that I must
      remain firm upon this point, and l only hope that the
      increased salary may recompense you for the loss. Your
      duties, as far as the child is concerned, are very light. Now
      do try to come, and I shall meet you with the dog-cart at
      Winchester. Let me know your train.
                                            "Yours faithfully,
                                             "JEPHRO RUCASTLE.

  "That is the letter which I have just received, Mr. Holmes,
and my mind is made up that I will accept it. I thought, how-
ever, that before taking the final step I should like to submit the
whole matter to your consideration."
  "Well, Miss Hunter, if your mind is made up, that settles the
question," said Holmes, smiling.
  "But you would not advise me to refuse?"
  "I confess that it is not the situation which I should like to see
a sister of mine apply for."
  "What is the meaning of it all, Mr. Holmes?"
  "Ah, I have no data. I cannot tell. Perhaps you have yourself
formed some opinion?"
  "Well, there seems to me to be only one possible solution.
Mr. Rucastle seemed to be a very kind, good-natured man. Is it
not possible that his wife is a lunatic, that he desires to keep the
matter quiet for fear she should be taken to an asylum, and that
he humours her fancies in every way in order to prevent an
  "That is a possible solution -- in fact, as matters stand, it is the
most probable one. But in any case it does not seem to be a nice
household for a young lady."
  "But the money, Mr. Holmes the money!"
  "Well, yes, of course the pay is good -- too good. That is what
makes me uneasy. Why should they give you 120 pounds a year, when
they could have their pick for 40 pounds? There must be some strong
reason behind."
  "I thought that if I told you the circumstances you would
understand afterwards if I wanted your help. I should feel so
much stronger if I felt that you were at the back of me."
  "Oh, you may carry that feeling away with you. I assure you
that your little problem promises to be the most interesting which
has come my way for some months. There is something dis-
tinctly novel about some of the features. If you should find
yourself in doubt or in danger --"
  "Danger! What danger do you foresee?"
  Holmes shook his head gravely. "It would cease to be a
danger if we could define it," said he. "But at any time, day or
night, a telegram would bring me down to your help."
  "That is enough." She rose briskly from her chair with the
anxiety all swept from her face. "I shall go down to Hampshire
quite easy in my mind now. I shall write to Mr. Rucastle at
once, sacrifice my poor hair to-night, and start for Winchester
to-morrow." With a few grateful words to Holmes she bade us
both good-night and bustled off upon her way.
  "At least," said I as we heard her quick, firm steps descend-
ing the stairs, "she seems to be a young lady who is very well
able to take care of herself."
  "And she would need to be," said Holmes gravely. "I am
much mistaken if we do not hear from her before many days are
  It was not very long before my friend's prediction was ful-
filled. A fortnight went by, during which I frequently found my
thoughts turning in her direction and wondering what strange
side-alley of human experience this lonely woman had strayed
into. The unusual salary, the curious conditions, the light duties,
all pointed to something abnormal, though whether a fad or a
plot, or whether the man were a philanthropist or a villain, it was
quite beyond my powers to determine. As to Holmes, I observed
that he sat frequently for half an hour on end, with knitted brows
and an abstracted air, but he swept the matter away with a wave
of his hand when I mentioned it. "Data! data! data!" he cried
impatiently. "I can't make bricks without clay." And yet he
would always wind up by muttering that no sister of his should
ever have accepted such a situation.
  The telegram which we eventually received came late one
night just as I was thinking of turning in and Holmes was settling
down to one of those all-night chemical researches which he
frequently indulged in, when I would leave him stooping over a
retort and a test-tube at night and find him in the same position
when I came down to breakfast in the morning. He opened the
yellow envelope, and then, glancing at the message, threw it
across to me.
  "Just look up the trains in Bradshaw," said he, and turned
back to his chemical studies.
  The summons was a brief and urgent one.

       Please be at the Black Swan Hotel at Winchester at
     midday to-morrow [it said]. Do come! I am at my wit's end.
                                                       HUNTER .

  "Will you come with me?" asked Holmes, glancing up.
  "I should wish to."
  "Just look it up, then."
  "There is a train at half-past nine," said I, glancing over my
Bradshaw. "It is due at Winchester at 11:30."
  "That will do very nicely. Then perhaps I had better postpone
my analysis of the acetones, as we may need to be at our best in
the morning."

  By eleven o'clock the next day we were well upon our way to
the old English capital. Holmes had been buried in the morning
papers all the way down, but after we had passed the Hampshire
border he threw them down and began to admire the scenery. It
was an ideal spring day, a light blue sky, flecked with little
fleecy white clouds drifting across from west to east. The sun
was shining very brightly, and yet there was an exhilarating nip
in the air, which set an edge to a man's energy. All over the
countryside, away to the rolling hills around Aldershot, the little
red and gray roofs of the farm-steadings peeped out from amid
the light green of the new foliage.
  "Are they not fresh and beautiful?" I cried with all the
enthusiasm of a man fresh from the fogs of Baker Street.
  But Holmes shook his head gravely.
  "Do you know, Watson," said he, "that it is one of the
curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at
everything with reference to my own special subject. You look at
these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I
look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a
feeling of their isolation and of the impunity with which crime
may be committed there."
  "Good heavens!" I cried. "Who would associate crime with
these dear old homesteads?"
  "They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief,
Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest
alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin
than does the smiling and beautiful countryside."
  "You horrify me!"
  "But the reason is very obvious. The pressure of public
opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish.
There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the
thud of a drunkard's blow, does not beget sympathy and indigna-
tion among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of
justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going,
and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look
at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most
part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of
the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may
go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser. Had
this lady who appeals to us for help gone to live in Winchester, I
should never have had a fear for her. It is the five miles of
country which makes the danger. Still, it is clear that she is not
personally threatened."
  "No. If she can come to Winchester to meet us she can get
  "Quite so. She has her freedom."
  "What can be the matter, then? Can you suggest no expla-
  "I have devised seven separate explanations, each of which
would cover the facts as far as we know them. But which of
these is correct can only be determined by the fresh information
which we shall no doubt find waiting for us. Well, there is the
tower of the cathedral, and we shall soon learn all that Miss
Hunter has to tell."
  The Black Swan is an inn of repute in the High Street, at no
distance from the station, and there we found the young lady
waiting for us. She had engaged a sitting-room, and our lunch
awaited us upon the table.
  "I am so delighted that you have come," she said earnestly.
"It is so very kind of you both; but indeed I do not know what I
should do. Your advice will be altogether invaluable to me."
  "Pray tell us what has happened to you."
  "I will do so, and I must be quick, for I have promised Mr.
Rucastle to be back before three. I got his leave to come into
town this morning, though he little knew for what purpose."
  "Let us have everything in its due order." Holmes thrust his
long thin legs out towards the fire and composed himself to
  "In the first place, I may say that I have met, on the whole,
with no actual ill-treatment from Mr. and Mrs. Rucastle. It is
only fair to them to say that. But I cannot understand them, and I
am not easy in my mind about them."
  "What can you not understand?"
  "Their reasons for their conduct. But you shall have it all just
as it occurred. When I came down, Mr. Rucastle met me here
and drove me in his dog-cart to the Copper Beeches. It is, as he
said, beautifully situated, but it is not beautiful in itself, for it is
a large square block of a house, whitewashed, but all stained and
streaked with damp and bad weather. There are grounds round it,
woods on three sides, and on the fourth a field which slopes
down to the Southampton highroad, which curves past about a
hundred yards from the front door. This ground in front belongs
to the house, but the woods all round are part of Lord Southerton's
preserves. A clump of copper beeches immediately in front of
the hall door has given its name to the place.
  "I was driven over by my employer, who was as amiable as
ever, and was introduced by him that evening to his wife and the
child. There was no truth, Mr. Holmes, in the conjecture which
seemed to us to be probable in your rooms at Baker Street. Mrs.
Rucastle is not mad. I found her to be a silent, pale-faced
woman, much younger than her husband, not more than thirty, I
should think, while he can hardly be less than forty-five. From
their conversation I have gathered that they have been married
about seven years, that he was a widower, and that his only child
by the first wife was the daughter who has gone to Philadelphia.
Mr. Rucastle told me in private that the reason why she had left
them was that she had an unreasoning aversion to her step-
mother. As the daughter could not have been less than twenty, I
can quite imagine-that her position must have been uncomfort-
able with her father's young wife.
  "Mrs. Rucastle seemed to me to be colourless in mind as well
as in feature. She impressed me neither favourably nor the
reverse. She was a nonentity. It was easy to see that she was
passionately devoted both to her husband and to her little son.
Her light gray eyes wandered continually from one to the other,
noting every little want and forestalling it if possible. He was
kind to her also in his bluff, boisterous fashion, and on the whole
they seemed to be a happy couple. And yet she had some secret
sorrow, this woman. She would often be lost in deep thought,
with the saddest look upon her face. More than once I have
surprised her in tears. I have thought sometimes that it was the
disposition of her child which weighed upon her mind, for I have
never met so utterly spoiled and so ill-natured a little creature.
He is small for his age, with a head which is quite dispro-
portionately large. His whole life appears to be spent in an
alternation between savage fits of passion and gloomy intervals
of sulking. Giving pain to any creature weaker than himself
seems to be his one idea of amusement, and he shows quite
remarkable talent in planning the capture of mice, little birds,
and insects. But I would rather not talk about the creature, Mr.
Holmes, and, indeed, he has little to do with my story."
  "I am glad of all details," remarked my friend, "whether
they seem to you to be relevant or not."
  "I shall try not to miss anything of importance. The one
unpleasant thing about the house, which struck me at once, was
the appearance and conduct of the servants. There are only two,
a man and his wife. Toller, for that is his name, is a rough,
uncouth man, with grizzled hair and whiskers, and a perpetual
smell of drink. Twice since I have been with them he has been
quite drunk, and yet Mr. Rucastle seemed to take no notice of it.
His wife is a very tall and strong woman with a sour face, as
silent as Mrs. Rucastle and much less amiable. They are a most
unpleasant couple, but fortunately I spend most of my time in the
nursery and my own room, which are next to each other in one
corner of the building.
  "For two days after my arrival at the Copper Beeches my life
was very quiet; on the third, Mrs. Rucastle came down just after
breakfast and whispered something to her husband.
  " 'Oh, yes,' said he, turning to me, 'we are very much
obliged to you, Miss Hunter, for falling in with our whims so far
as to cut your hair. I assure you that it has not detracted in the
tiniest iota from your appearance. We shall now see how the
electric-blue dress will become you. You will find it laid out
upon the bed in your room, and if you would be so good as to
put it on we should both be extremely obliged.'
  "The dress which I found waiting for me was of a peculiar
shade of blue. It was of excellent material, a sort of beige, but it
bore unmistakable signs of having been worn before. It could not
have been a better fit if I had been measured for it. Both Mr. and
Mrs. Rucastle expressed a delight at the look of it, which seemed
quite exaggerated in its vehemence. They were waiting for me in
the drawing-room, which is a very large room, stretching along
the entire front of the house, with three long windows reaching
down to the floor. A chair had been placed close to the central
window, with its back turned towards it. In this I was asked to
sit, and then Mr. Rucastle, walking up and down on the other
side of the room, began to tell me a series of the funniest stories
that I have ever listened to. You cannot imagine how comical he
was, and I laughed until I was quite weary. Mrs. Rucastle,
however, who has evidently no sense of humour, never so much
as smiled, but sat with her hands in her lap, and a sad, anxious
look upon her face. After an hour or so, Mr. Rucastle suddenly
remarked that it was time to commence the duties of the day, and
that I might change my dress and go to little Edward in the
  "Two days later this same performance was gone through
under exactly similar circumstances. Again I changed my dress,
again I sat in the window, and again I laughed very heartily at
the funny stories of which my employer had an immense reper-
toire, and which he told inimitably. Then he handed me a yellow-
backed novel, and moving my chair a little sideways, that my
own shadow might not fall upon the page. he begged me to read
aloud to him. I read for about ten minutes, beginning in the heart
of a chapter, and then suddenly, in the middle of a sentence, he
ordered me to cease and to change my dress.
  "You can easily imagine, Mr. Holmes, how curious I became
as to what the meaning of this extraordinary performance could
possibly be. They were always very careful, I observed, to turn
my face away from the window, so that I became consumed with
the desire to see what was going on behind my back. At first it
seemed to be impossible, but I soon devised a means. My
hand-mirror had been broken, so a happy thought seized me, and
I concealed a piece of the glass in my handkerchief. On the next
occasion, in the midst of my laughter, I put my handkerchief up
to my eyes, and was able with a little management to see all that
there was behind me. I confess that I was disappointed. There
was nothing. At least that was my first impression. At the second
glance, however, I perceived that there was a man standing in
the Southampton Road, a small bearded man in a gray suit, who
seemed to be looking in my direction. The road is an important
highway, and there are usually people there. This man, however,
was leaning against the railings which bordered our field and was
looking earnestly up. I lowered my handkerchief and glanced at
Mrs. Rucastle to find her eyes fixed upon me with a most
searching gaze. She said nothing, but I am convinced that she
had divined that I had a mirror in my hand and had seen what
was behind me. She rose at once.
  " 'Jephro,' said she, 'there is an impertinent fellow upon the
road there who stares up at Miss Hunter.'
  " 'No friend of yours, Miss Hunter?' he asked.
  " 'No, I know no one in these parts.'
  " 'Dear me! How very impertinent! Kindly turn round and
motion to him to go away.'
  " 'Surely it would be better to take no notice.'
  " 'No, no, we should have him loitering here always. Kindly
turn round and wave him away like that.'
  "I did as I was told, and at the same instant Mrs. Rucastle
drew down the blind. That was a week ago, and from that time I
have not sat again in the window, nor have I worn the blue
dress, nor seen the man in the road."
  "Pray continue," said Holmes. "Your narrative promises to
be a most interesting one."
  "You will find it rather disconnected, I fear, and there may
prove to be little relation between the different incidents of
which I speak. On the very first day that I was at the Copper
Beeches, Mr. Rucastle took me to a small outhouse which stands
near the kitchen door. As we approached it I heard the sharp
rattling of a chain, and the sound as of a large animal moving
  " 'Look in here!' said Mr. Rucastle, showing me a slit be-
tween two planks. 'Is he not a beauty?'
  "I looked through and was conscious of two glowing eyes,
and of a vague figure huddled up in the darkness.
  " 'Don't be frightened,' said my employer, laughing at the
start which I had given. 'It's only Carlo, my mastiff. I call him
mine, but really old Toller, my groom, is the only man who can
do anything with him. We feed him once a day, and not too
much then, so that he is always as keen as mustard. Toller lets
him loose every night, and God help the trespasser whom he
lays his fangs upon. For goodness' sake don't you ever on any
pretext set your foot over the threshold at night, for it's as much
as your life is worth.'
  "The warning was no idle one, for two nights later I happened
to look out of my bedroom window about two o'clock in the
morning. It was a beautiful moonlight night, and the lawn in
front of the house was silvered over and almost as bright as day.
I was standing, rapt in the peaceful beauty of the scene, when I
was aware that something was moving under the shadow of the
copper beeches. As it emerged into the moonshine I saw what it
was. It was a giant dog, as large as a calf, tawny tinted, with
hanging jowl, black muzzle, and huge projecting bones. It walked
slowly across the lawn and vanished into the shadow upon the
other side. That dreadful sentinel sent a chill to my heart which I
do not think that any burglar could have done.
  "And now I have a very strange experience to tell you. I had,
as you know, cut off my hair in London, and I had placed it in a
great coil at the bottom of my trunk. One evening, after the child
was in bed, I began to amuse myself by examining the furniture
of my room and by rearranging my own little things. There was
an old chest of drawers in the room, the two upper ones empty
and open, the lower one locked. I had filled the first two with
my linen. and as I had still much to pack away I was naturally
annoyed at not having the use of the third drawer. It struck me
that it might have been fastened by a mere oversight, so I took
out my bunch of keys and tried to open it. The very first key
fitted to perfection, and I drew the drawer open. There was only
one thing in it, but I am sure that you would never guess what it
was. It was my coil of hair.
  "I took it up and examined it. It was of the same peculiar tint,
and the same thickness. But then the impossibility of the thing
obtruded itself upon me. How could my hair have been locked in
the drawer? With trembling hands I undid my trunk, turned out
the contents, and drew from the bonom my own hair. I laid the
two tresses together, and I assure you that they were identical.
Was it not extraordinary? Puzzle as I would, I could make
nothing at all of what it meant. I returned the strange hair to the
drawer, and I said nothing of the matter to the Rucastles as I felt
that I had put myself in the wrong by opening a drawer which
they had locked.
  "I am naturally observant, as you may have remarked, Mr.
Holmes, and I soon had a pretty good plan of the whole house in
my head. There was one wing, however, which appeared not to
be inhabited at all. A door which faced that which led into the
quarters of the Tollers opened into this suite, but it was invaria-
bly locked. One day, however, as I ascended the stair, I met Mr.
Rucastle coming out through this door, his keys in his hand, and
a look on his face which made him a very different person to the
round, jovial man to whom I was accustomed. His cheeks were
red, his brow was all crinkled with anger, and the veins stood
out at his temples with passion. He locked the door and hurried
past me without a word or a look.
  "This aroused my curiosity, so when I went out for a walk in
the grounds with my charge, I strolled round to the side from
which I could see the windows of this part of the house. There
were four of them in a row, three of which were simply dirty,
while the fourth was shuttered up. They were evidently all
deserted. As I strolled up and down, glancing at them occasion-
ally, Mr. Rucastle came out to me, looking as merry and jovial
as ever.
  " 'Ah!' said he, 'you must not think me rude if I passed you
without a word, my dear young lady. I was preoccupied with
business matters.'
  "I assured him that I was not offended. 'By the way,' said
I, 'you seem to have quite a suite of spare rooms up there, and
one of them has the shutters up.'
  "He looked surprised and, as it seemed to me, a little startled
at my remark.
  " 'Photography is one of my hobbies,' said he. 'I have made
my dark room up there. But, dear me! what an observant young
lady we have come upon. Who would have believed it? Who
would have ever believed it?' He spoke in a jesting tone, but
there was no jest in his eyes as he looked at me. I read suspicion
there and annoyance, but no jest.
  "Well, Mr. Holmes, from the moment that I understood that
there was something about that suite of rooms which I was not to
know, I was all on fire to go over them. It was not mere
curiosity, though I have my share of that. It was more a feeling
of duty -- a feeling that some good might come from my penetrat-
ing to this place. They talk of woman's instinct; perhaps it was
woman's instinct which gave me that feeling. At any rate, it was
there, and I was keenly on the lookout for any chance to pass the
forbidden door.
  "It was only yesterday that the chance came. I may tell you
that, besides Mr. Rucastle, both Toller and his wife find some-
thing to do in these deserted rooms, and I once saw him carrying
a large black linen bag with him through the door. Recently he
has been drinking hard, and yesterday evening he was very
drunk; and when I came upstairs there was the key in the door. I
have no doubt at all that he had left it there. Mr. and Mrs.
Rucastle were both downstairs, and the child was with them, so
that I had an admirable opportunity. I turned the key gently in
the lock, opened the door, and slipped through.
  "There was a little passage in front of me, unpapered and
uncarpeted, which turned at a right angle at the farther end.
Round this corner were three doors in a line, the first and third of
which were open. They each led into an empty room, dusty and
cheerless, with two windows in the one and one in the other, so
thick with dirt that the evening light glimmered dimly through
them. The centre door was closed, and across the outside of it
had been fastened one of the broad bars of an iron bed, padlocked
at one end to a ring in the wall, and fastened at the other with
stout cord. The door itself was locked as well, and the key was
not there. This barricaded door corresponded clearly with the
shuttered window outside, and yet I could see by the glimmer
from beneath it that the room was not in darkness. Evidently
there was a skylight which let in light from above. As I stood in
the passage gazing at the sinister door and wondering what secret
it might veil, I suddenly heard the sound of steps within the room
and saw a shadow pass backward and forward against the little
slit of dim light which shone out from under the door. A mad,
unreasoning terror rose up in me at the sight, Mr. Holmes. My
overstrung nerves failed me suddenly, and I turned and ran -- ran
as though some dreadful hand were behind me clutching at the
skirt of my dress. I rushed down the passage, through the door,
and straight into the arms of Mr. Rucastle, who was waiting
  " 'So,' said he, smiling, 'it was you, then. I thought that it
must be when I saw the door open.'
  " 'Oh, I am so frightened!' I panted.
  " 'My dear young lady! my dear young lady!' -- you cannot
think how caressing and soothing his manner was -- 'and what
has frightened you, my dear young lady?'
  "But his voice was just a little too coaxing. He overdid it. I
was keenly on my guard against him.
  " 'I was foolish enough to go into the empty wing,' I an-
swered. 'But it is so lonely and eerie in this dim light that I was
frightened and ran out again. Oh, it is so dreadfully still in
  " 'Only that?' said he, looking at me keenly.
  " 'Why, what did you think?' I asked.
  " 'Why do you think that I lock this door?'
  " 'I am sure that I do not know.'
  " 'It is to keep people out who have no business there. Do
you see?' He was still smiling in the most amiable manner.
  " 'I am sure if I had known
  " 'Well, then, you know now. And if you ever put your foot
over that threshold again' -- here in an instant the smile hardened
into a grin of rage, and he glared down at me with the face of a
demon -- 'I'll throw you to the mastiff.'
  "I was so terrified that I do not know what I did. I suppose
that I must have rushed past him into my room. I remember
nothing until I found myself lying on my bed trembling all over.
Then I thought of you, Mr. Holmes. I could not live there longer
without some advice. I was frightened of the house, of the man
of the woman, of the servants, even of the child. They were ali
horrible to me. If I could only bring you down all would be well.
Of course I might have fled from the house, but my curiosity
was almost as strong as my fears. My mind was soon made up. I
would send you a wire. I put on my hat and cloak, went down to
the office, which is about half a mile from the house, and then
returned, feeling very much easier. A horrible doubt came into my
mind as I approached the door lest the dog might be loose, but I
remembered that Toller had drunk himself into a state of insensi-
bility that evening, and I knew that he was the only one in the
household who had any influence with the savage creature, or
who would venture to set him free. I slipped in in safety and lay
awake half the night in my joy at the thought of seeing you. I
had no difficulty in getting leave to come into Winchester this
morning, but I must be back before three o'clock, for Mr. and
Mrs. Rucastle are going on a visit, and will be away all the
evening, so that I must look after the child. Now I have told you
all my adventures, Mr. Holmes, and I should be very glad if you
could tell me what it all means, and, above all, what I should
  Holmes and I had listened spellbound to this extraordinary
story. My friend rose now and paced up and down the room, his
hands in his pockets, and an expression of the most profound
gravity upon his face.
  "Is Toller still drunk?" he asked.
  "Yes. I heard his wife tell Mrs. Rucastle that she could do
nothing with him."
  "That is well. And the Rucastles go out to-night?"
  "Is there a cellar with a good strong lock?"
  "Yes, the wine-cellar."
  "You seem to me to have acted all through this matter like a
very brave and sensible girl, Miss Hunter. Do you think that you
could perform one more feat? I should not ask it of you if I did
not think you a quite exceptional woman."
  "I will try. What is it?"
  "We shall be at the Copper Beeches by seven o'clock, my
friend and I. The Rucastles will be gone by that time, and Toller
will, we hope, be incapable. There only remains Mrs. Toller,
who might give the alarm. If you could send her into the cellar
on some errand, and then turn the key upon her, you would
facilitate matters immensely."
  "I will do it."
  "Excellent! We shall then look thoroughly into the affair. Of
course there is only one feasible explanation. You have been
brought there to personate someone, and the real person is
imprisoned in this chamber. That is obvious. As to who this
prisoner is, I have no doubt that it is the daughter, Miss Alice
Rucastle, if I remember right, who was said to have gone to
America. You were chosen, doubtless, as resembling her in
height, figure, and the colour of your hair. Hers had been cut
off, very possibly in some illness through which she has passed,
and so, of course, yours had to be sacrificed also. By a curious
chance you came upon her tresses. The man in the road was
undoubtedly some friend of hers -- possibly her fiance -- and no
doubt, as you wore the girl's dress and were so like her, he was
convinced from your laughter, whenever he saw you, and after-
wards from your gesture, that Miss Rucastle was perfectly happy,
and that she no longer desired his attentions. The dog is let loose
at night to prevent him from endeavouring to communicate with
her. So much is fairly clear. The most serious point in the case is
the disposition of the child."
  "What on earth has that to do with it?" I ejaculated.
  "My dear Watson, you as a medical man are continually
gaining light as to the tendencies of a child by the study of the
parents. Don't you see that the converse is equally valid. I have
frequently gained my first real insight into the character of
parents by studying their children. This child's disposition is
abnormally cruel, merely for cruelty's sake, and whether he
derives this from his smiling father, as I should suspect, or from
his mother, it bodes evil for the poor girl who is in their
  "I am sure that you are right, Mr. Holmes," cried our client.
"A thousand things come back to me which make me certain
that you have hit it. Oh, let us lose not an instant in bringing
help to this poor creature."
  "We must be circumspect, for we are dealing with a very
cunning man. We can do nothing until seven o'clock. At that
hour we shall be with you, and it will not be long before we solve
the mystery."
  We were as good as our word, for it was just seven when we
reached the Copper Beeches, having put up our trap at a wayside
public-house. The group of trees, with their dark leaves shining
like burnished metal in the light of the setting sun, were suffi-
cient to mark the house even had Miss Hunter not been standing
smiling on the door-step.
  "Have you managed it?" asked Holmes.
  A loud thudding noise came from somewhere downstairs.
"That is Mrs. Toller in the cellar," said she. "Her husband lies
snoring on the kitchen rug. Here are his keys, which are the
duplicates of Mr. Rucastle's."
  "You have done well indeed!" cried Holmes with enthusi-
asm. "Now lead the way, and we shall soon see the end of this
black business."
  We passed up the stair, unlocked the door, followed on down
a passage, and found ourselves in front of the barricade which
Miss Hunter had described. Holmes cut the cord and removed
the transverse bar. Then he tried the various keys in the lock, but
without success. No sound came from within, and at the silence
Holmes's face clouded over.
  "I trust that we are not too late," said he. "I think, Miss
Hunter, that we had better go in without you. Now, Watson, put
your shoulder to it, and we shall see whether we cannot make
our way in."
  It was an old rickety door and gave at once before our united
strength. Together we rushed into the room. It was empty. There
was no furniture save a little pallet bed, a small table, and a
basketful of linen. The skylight above was open, and the pris-
oner gone.
  "There has been some villainy here," said Holmes; "this
beauty has guessed Miss Hunter's intentions and has carried his
victim off."
  "But how?"
  "Through the skylight. We shall soon see how he managed
it." He swung himself up onto the roof. "Ah, yes," he cried,
"here's the end of a long light ladder against the eaves. That is
how he did it."
  "But it is impossible," said Miss Hunter; "the ladder was not
there when the Rucastles went away."
  "He has come back and done it. I tell you that he is a clever
and dangerous man. I should not be very much surprised if this
were he whose step I hear now upon the stair. I think, Watson,
that it would be as well for you to have your pistol ready."
  The words were hardly out of his mouth before a man ap-
peared at the door of the room, a very fat and burly man, with a
heavy stick in his hand. Miss Hunter screamed and shrunk
against the wall at the sight of him, but Sherlock Holmes sprang
forward and confronted him.
  "You villain!" said he, "where's your daughter?"
  The fat man cast his eyes round, and then up at the open
  "It is for me to ask you that," he shrieked, "you thieves!
Spies and thieves! I have caught you, have l? You are in my
power. I'll serve you!" He turned and clattered down the stairs
as hard as he could go.
  "He's gone for the dog!" cried Miss Hunter.
  "I have my revolver," said I.
  "Better close the front door," cried Holmes, and we all
rushed down the stairs together. We had hardly reached the hall
when we heard the baying of a hound, and then a scream of
agony, with a horrible worrying sound which it was dreadful to
listen to. An elderly man with a red face and shaking limbs came
staggering out at a side door.
  "My God!" he cried. "Someone has loosed the dog. It's not
been fed for two days. Quick, quick, or it'll be too late!"
  Holmes and I rushed out and round the angle of the house,
with Toller hurrying behind us. There was the huge famished
brute, its black muzzle buried in Rucastle's throat, while he
writhed and screamed upon the ground. Running up, I blew its
brains out, and it fell over with its keen white teeth still meeting
in the great creases of his neck. With much labour we separated
them and carried him, living but horribly mangled, into the
house. We laid him upon the drawing-room sofa, and having
dispatched the sobered Toller to bear the news to his wife, I did
what I could to relieve his pain. We were all assembled round
him when the door opened, and a tall, gaunt woman entered the
  "Mrs. Toller!" cried Miss Hunter.
  "Yes, miss. Mr. Rucastle let me out when he came back
before he went up to you. Ah, miss, it is a pity you didn't let me
know what you were planning, for I would have told you that
your pains were wasted."
  "Ha!" said Holmes, looking keenly at her. "It is clear that
Mrs. Toller knows more about this matter than anyone else."
  "Yes, sir, I do, and I am ready enough to tell what I know."
  "Then, pray, sit down, and let us hear it for there are several
points on which I must confess that I am still in the dark."
  "I will soon make it clear to you," said she; "and I'd have
done so before now if I could ha' got out from the cellar. If
there's police-court business over this, you'll remember that I
was the one that stood your friend, and that I was Miss Alice's
friend too.
  "She was never happy at home, Miss Alice wasn't, from the
time that her father married again. She was slighted like and had
no say in anything, but it never really became bad for her until
after she met Mr. Fowler at a friend's house. As well as I could
learn, Miss Alice had rights of her own by will, but she was so
quiet and patient, she was, that she never said a word about them
but just left everything in Mr. Rucastle's hands. He knew he was
safe with her; but when there was a chance of a husband coming
forward, who would ask for all that the law would give him,
then her father thought it time to put a stop on it. He wanted her
to sign a paper, so that whether she married or not, he could use
her money. When she wouldn't do it, he kept on worrying her
until she got brain-fever, and for six weeks was at death's door.
Then she got better at last, all worn to a shadow, and with her
beautiful hair cut off; but that didn't make no change in her
young man, and he stuck to her as true as man could be."
  "Ah," said Holmes, "I think that what you have been good
enough to tell us makes the matter fairly clear, and that I can
deduce all that remains. Mr. Rucastle then, I presume, took to
this system of imprisonment?"
  "Yes, sir."
  "And brought Miss Hunter down from London in order to get
rid of the disagreeable persistence of Mr. Fowler."
  "That was it, sir."
  "But Mr. Fowler being a persevering man, as a good seaman
should be, blockaded the house, and having met you succeeded
by certain arguments, metallic or otherwise, in convincing you
that your interests were the same as his."
  "Mr. Fowler was a very kind-spoken, free-handed gentle-
man," said Mrs. Toller serenely.
  "And in this way he managed that your good man should have
no want of drink, and that a ladder should be ready at the
moment when your master had gone out."
  "You have it, sir, just as it happened."
  "I am sure we owe you an apology, Mrs. Toller," said
Holmes, "for you have certainly cleared up everything which
puzzled us. And here comes the country surgeon and Mrs.
Rucastle, so I think. Watson, that we had best escort Miss
Hunter back to Winchester, as it seems to me that our locus
standi now is rather a questionable one."
  And thus was solved the mystery of the sinister house with the
copper beeches in front of the door. Mr. Rucastle survived, but
was always a broken man, kept alive solely through the care of
his devoted wife. They still live with their old servants, who
probably know so mUch of Rucastle's past life that he finds it
difficult to part from them. Mr. Fowler and Miss Rucastle were
married, by special license, in Southampton the day after their
flight, and he is now the holder of a government appointment in
the island of Mauritius. As to Miss Violet Hunter, my friend
Holmes, rather to my disappointment, manifested no further
interest in her when once she had ceased to be the centre of one
of his problems, and she is now the head of a private school at
Walsall, where I believe that she has met with considerable